OS Blog: Windows, Linux Highlights From Around the Web

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Hewlett-Packard, in conjunction with Verizon's wireless data network, expects to send out more than 200,000 alerts and serve up 7 million page views during the race. And this year, for the first time, HP is incorporating Linux in a significant role as well as Windows.

The database containing runner information from all those RFID chips will be deployed on an Integrity server with Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft's SQL Server 2000. However, another Integrity server handling all the runner-requested alerts will utilize Linux, PHP and Sendmail. The Linux box will receive inforomation from the Windows server, and PHP scripts will send the data to Sendmail to push out as alerts, explained William Carlisle, director of HP's Microsoft solutions group.

"We decided to introduce Linux [this year] to create a heterogeneous environment" for the annual Marathon showcase project, Carlisle said. The public Web site with tracking data will remain on a Windows server, he added.

Altogether, there will be 17 servers in various capacity supporting Marathon activities. "It requires some pretty heavy technology on the back end," he said.

You can check it out this Monday, April 18, starting at noon EDT.

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Microsoft will be offering its "Windows Lite" Windows XP Starter Edition in a sixth country, Brazil, according to ENT News. The pared-down, less expensive OS is designed to battle both piracy and Linux.

You get what you pay for, though. Limitations include a maximum 800 x 600 screen resolution and less networking support, ENT News notes. Starter Edition is also available in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia and India.

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Just published: Linux Quick Fix Notebook, a surprisingly readable how-to guide for system administrators by Peter Harrison. Topics range from simple (file sharing, basic networking) to advanced (centralized logins, VPN configuration, Linux RAIDs and more), with focus primarily on Red Hat's free Fedora distribution.

While one Amazon.com reviewer complained that the book fails to mention the useful Knoppix Linux-on-a-bootable-CD or Milter anti-spam filtering, I think these are small nits to what appears to be a highly useful real-world guide for Linux admins.

You can see a sample chapter on FTP server setup as a downloadable PDF.

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Spanish supermarket Mercadona will be implementing Linux on 10,000 desktops as well as all its point-of-sale terminals, Silicon.com reports. The company will be using Red Hat's Enterprise distribution.

April 12

Today's patch day, when Microsoft issues its monthly security updates. April's entry features eight separate bulletins addressing 18 flaws in Windows, Explorer, Exchange, Messenger and Office (see story).

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If you've been using Microsoft's blocking tool to prevent automatic download of Windows XP Service Pack 2, that blocking mechanism "has expired and is no longer available," Microsoft reminded IT professionals today. Systems that have not yet loaded SP2 will be notified to do so over the next week or so, Microsoft said.

However, while SP 2 will now automatically download, it does not auto install. Microsoft has offered instructions on how to decline installation on its TechNet site. You can also see more in this IDG News Service story.

April 8

"Microsoft has pushed back its version of Windows for supercomputers, acknowledging Wednesday that it was six months behind on the operating system," BetaNews reports. "The high-end Windows Server 2003, dubbed Corporate Cluster Edition, is being crafted to tackle intensive parallel computing workloads, and to deploy and manage clusters."

When it was announced last June as Windows Server High Performance Computing Edition, plans called for the OS to ship by the end of this year. Now, a beta is planned sometime in the second half of this year, with release in the first half of '06.

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Italy's seventh-largest bank is migrating 8,000 Sun Unix workstations to Intel-based hardware running Linux, Red Hat announced. Banche Popolari Unite expects combined hardware/software savings of around 50%

March 22

Usenix '05 is just around the corner, April 10-15 in Anaheim. The technical conference features sessions on Linux, clusters, open-source, system administration and more.

In other conference happenings, Linuxworld Canada comes to Toronto (a lovely city where your American dollar buys $1.20 CDN) on April 18-20. Looks like there are a lot of presentations by major vendors, if you're interested to see what folks like Novell, IBM and HP are up to in the Linux space.

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Am I the only one starting to get annoyed by all the allegedly "independent" Linux vs. Microsoft studies concluding Microsoft products are better, which just happen to be funded by Microsoft? One of the latest comes from Security Innovation Inc., which examines two Web server platforms: Windows Server 2003 running Microsoft IIS 6.0, SQL Server 2000 and ASP.net vs. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 running Apache, MySQL and PHP.

The study only examines default configurations and explicitly excludes anything that could be done to harden the systems, and concludes "the number of vulnerabilities on the Windows Server 2003 platform is considerably less than the number for the Red Hat server." There are a lot of charts and tables in the 37-page PDF, and I admit I haven't gone through each data point to see if I contest it. However, I did find it a little surprising that one table claimed there were zero low-risk vulnerabilities for the Windows Server 2003 setup.

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Microsoft has pushed back its planned ship date for Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005 until the second half of this year (see story). They were initially slated for summer.

"Just trying to keep track of all the Visual Studio 2005 editions is painful," writes Paul Thurrott at Windows IT Pro. There's Team Edition, Foundation Server, Team Suite, Professional edition....

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O'Reilly recently released a couple of Linux books of note: Linux in a Windows World, which focuses on issues around adding Linux systems to a predominantly Windows network; and an updated third edition of the Linux Network Administrator's Guide. A chapter on wireless networking in the Linux admin's guide is available online as a PDF on O'Reilly's Web site.

February 17

Will SCO stock be kicked off NASDAQ? That's the embarrassing possibility after the company didn't "file its Form 10-K [annual financial report] for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2004 in a timely fashion," as required by marketplace rules, SCO announced today. (Such filings are also mandated by federal law -- publicly traded companies must file a 10-K within 90 days of the end of their fiscal years. SCO already sought and received one extension, but missed the delayed deadline as well, the Salt Lake Tribune notes).

According to the company's statement, SCO plans to request a hearing with NASDAQ before the threatened Feb. 25 delisting date. Its financial report has been delayed "because it continues to examine certain matters related to the issuance of shares of the company's common stock pursuant to its equity compensation plans," SCO says -- in other words, something appears amiss in how it awarded shares to some of its employees.

February 16

Content management system Mambo 4.5.1 picked up this year's Linuxworld "best of show" award, with judges also honoring it as best open-source solution.

Among the other category winners, Versora's Progression DB picked up top database solution honors, Advanced Micro Devices Opteron Model x52 processors won for most innovative hardware, and Rackable Systems' C4002 4-Way Opteron got the nod as best server.

It should be encouraging to enterprise Linux fans that IBM is trying to get more independent software vendors interested in developing applications for the OS. Its new Chiphopper program will give third-party developers porting and testing software to help create apps that work across multiple Big Blue product lines. "Vendors will also be given access to IBM testing centers and marketing dollars to help promote their products on Linux," the IDG News Service notes.

And, HP's Martin Fink said that the company will release some of its virtual machine technology to Xen, a VM monitor application developed by the University of Cambridge in the U.K., under the GPL.

Newsforge has a slightly different spin on typical Linuxworld coverage: the hardware angle, from workstations and servers through big iron. "There were lots of storage devices on display" as well, the article notes, including IBM's ESS800 Enterprise Storage Server and Sun's StorEdge 3000 hard drive enclosure. However, the article ended up disappointed over "the dearth of new and innovative products being demonstrated."

February 8

PC World takes an early look at a pre-release version of Windows XP Professional X64 Edition, concluding it is "surprisingly compatible with 32-bit apps."

"From a performance perspective, XP X64 appears to work as well as 32-bit Windows XP Professional on the same hardware," notes reviewer Paul Thurrott. However, he adds that some applications will not install properly if they utilize a 16-bit installer.

In order to truly take advantage of a 64-bit OS, though, you'll need applications written specifically for one. So far, Thurrott points out, "several companies have offered vague promises about developing native 64-bit programs, but concrete plans are rarely available."

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U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball this week said it was "astonishing" that SCO had "not offered any competent evidence" to support its patent-infringement claims against IBM, according to AP. Nevertheless, Kimball declined to grant IBM's request to toss out SCO's lawsuit.

If Kimball believes SCO has no hard evidence, why is the suit proceeding? Because Kimball believes a motion to dismiss the case is premature.

February 1

In a case that seems to be getting stranger by the week, IBM has "served a subpoena on Intel, asking the world's largest semiconductor company to hand over documents concerning its relationship with SCO, the Utah-based software company that is suing IBM," the Financial Times of London reports.

IBM serving papers on Intel? Even some of those who have been carefully watching this case's every development are baffled. Notes Groklaw: "You don't usually have to depose your best friends, though. They tell you whatever you need to know volitionally, because they want you to win, and they'll do a declaration for you. You subpoena folks who are not eager to tell you what you wish to learn, or who wish to appear so. . . .

"Don't ask me what it means, because all it means to me so far is that IBM suspects or knows something we don't yet know but we will, I'm sure, eventually find out."

This is all in connection with SCO's suit against IBM, accusing Big Blue of infringing on its intellectual property rights because Linux allegedly contains Unix software code owned by SCO. It marks the first time that Intel has been sucked into the SCO/Linux legal whirlwind. But Intel is unlikely to be the last major company pulled into this fray.

January 28

The group charged with monitoring Microsoft's antitrust-settlement compliance says it's keeping an eye on the company's next-generation OS, Longhorn, BetaNews reports. That comes from the group's semiannual status report.

"The committee, which includes state regulators and the U.S. Department of Justice, has been closely monitoring Longhorn's development for the past two years," BetaNews notes. A Microsoft spokesman told BetaNews that the company welcomes the oversight and wants to work with regulators to address concerns early in the process.

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Groklaw takes spot-on aim at SCO, for objecting to IBM's requests for information to support SCO's patent-infringement claims. "We now have the hilarious opportunity to watch SCO tell the court how burdensome it would be for SCO to have to produce to IBM every product Caldera distributed for the past 6 years. These are the same folks who whined until they got not only every released version of AIX and Dynix going back to the '80s but every *unreleased* one also, in their own discovery demands," says one recent post. "The problem is, they just argued very persuasively that massive discovery is essential to prove their case, and they got a lot of what they asked for. Now, to turn around and make an opposite argument isn't likely to go down so smoothly."

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What's the likely impact of Sun releasing 1,600 patents under a Common Development and Distribution License as part of its OpenSolaris effort? "The truth is Sun is now competing with Linux. That's not the same as trying to kill it, but it's not altogether friendly either," writes Groklaw's Pamela Jones. "Yet, at the teleconference, Sun said they want to be a better friend to the community. I feel a bit like a mom whose toddler has written 'I LUV MOMMY' on the wall with crayons. Now what do I say?"

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The Usenix "HotOS X" program committee is looking for papers for its conference June 12-15 in Santa Fe. Submission deadline is Feb. 1.

January 19

Venezuela has joined the list of world governments that is interested in saving software licensing fees by moving to open-source, according to several reports.

"The decree involves three phases of migration beginning with central government, then regional government and finally municipal government," writes analyst Robin Bloor for IT-Analysis.com. National ministries are supposed to migrate within two years, unless they can prove the timeframe is impossible. The government has funded an "Open Source academy" in order to train staffers, Bloor notes.

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