OS Blog: Windows, Linux Highlights From Around the Web

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Meanwhile, SCO appears to be having second thoughts about launching a Web site to compete with the popular Groklaw site chronicling SCO's legal battles (see story). "It's still up for debate whether the Web site will ever go up," a SCO spokesman told the IDG News Service.

October 29

A SuSE Linux Professional 9.2 beta tester reports that despite the expected early-version bugs, it's an attractive distribution: "The most compelling reason I've found for staying with the beta 9.2 is the fact that it contains the latest versions of many of my favorite applications. Evolution 2.0, for example, has a number of enhancements that make it better than ever."

This Linux Professional includes a spam blocker, and the anonymous Linux.com reviewer concludes: "Color me pleased overall with the state of SUSE 9.2."

Another interesting tidbit: The reviewer expects SuSE eventually will merge the KDE and GNOME desktops into a single offering.

October 25

Malicious hackers have gone phishing for Red Hat users, sending out a fake e-mail that claims a buffer overflow vulnerability has been found in Red Hat software. Users are "strongly advised" to immediately download and install a "fix" from a page at www.fedora-redhat.com.

Actually, the alleged patches "contain malicious code designed to compromise the systems they are run on," according to a notice on Red Hat's Web site.

October 22

Parsing through Microsoft's massive quarterly revenue numbers, Wall Street was apparently concerned that, as The New York Times put it, "fewer Microsoft customers than expected renewed their software subscriptions. . . . Microsoft reported that its deferred revenue, or money that is booked from subscription sales, dropped $395 million in the quarter." The company had expected a decline of between $200 million and $300 million.

"Generally, Wall Street had been watching the deferred revenue figure closely, even though it represents a fraction of Microsoft's overall sales," the Times noted.

CFO John Connors told analysts that the company expects customers will eventually resubscribe, but are taking their time making decisions because of "grace periods" built in to existing contracts.

"A good chunk of Microsoft's growth is expected to come from sales of its Windows Server software for computer networks, which is competing against the Linux operating system," according to Reuters. "Business are turning to cheaper PC-based servers to run their networks."

"Microsoft is becoming more and more a server company and less and less a classic PC company," Mark Stahlman, an analyst at Caris & Co, told CNN/Money. The biggest growth came from Microsoft's server software business, with a revenue jump of 19%. Overall sales grew 12%.

"Microsoft's projected yearly growth rate for fiscal 2005 is 5.6% to 6.4%, its slowest sales growth since going public in 1986," Reuters reports. However, " 'Microsoft has always issued conservative guidance, only to surprise on the upside," said Charles Di Bona, analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. 'This is a solid growth company,' Di Bona said."


HP has reportedly sent a cease-and-desist letter to Sun Microsystems, demanding that "misstatements" critical of HP be corrected. According to a copy of the letter posted on chillingeffects.org, HP takes issue with Sun online ads claiming HP is running away from HP-UX and Tru64, as well as some jabs posted by Sun President Jonathan Schwartz on his blog. Chillingeffects.org posted what it says is Sun's response, claiming that all the statements are true and can be backed up.

Novell is planning a public beta test soon of Open Enterprise Server, its software designed to provide "file, print and application services in an open environment." It will include both open-source and proprietary code from Linux and NetWare to offer management tools, directory-enabled services and Novell support.

The final release is expected in February (see story). You can sign up to be notified when the beta version is available for download.


Microsoft is previewing the latest version of its XP Embedded OS, which includes a version of Service Pack 2. The company says this latest embedded operating system focuses on security and networking improvements, "enterprise-class manageability" and some new features such as Bluetooth support and faster booting.

You can download the preview from the Microsoft Web site.


Interested in Linux on your handheld? IBM has posted an article outlining how to run Linux on an iPAQ.

"By running a standard Linux distribution, you can easily port many applications (some with no changes at all, many with only very few changes)," notes author Martyn Honeyford, a software engineer at IBM UK Labs.

October 8

Here We Go Again: Another Linux vs. Microsoft TCO study is out, and this one claims that the open-source OS is a better value. German analyst firm Soeren Research concluded open-source can save companies up to 30% over proprietary software, according to a story in The Age of Australia. The study is likely to rekindle a debate touched off by a Microsoft-funded study that claimed Microsoft total cost of ownership is less.


In an editorial running Monday, Computerworld editor in chief Don Tennant says that the overheated rantings of some Linux enthusiasts reflect "an outdated mentality that can only handicap Linux's adoption by perpetuating the impression of its immaturity." I'm so looking forward to next week's reader feedback....

September 29

Red Hat has released a public preview of its next-generation "comprehensive suite of enterprise operating systems," Red Hat Enterprise Linux v. 4 Beta, according to an announcement on the company's Web site. Designed around the Linux 2.6 kernel, it also includes OpenOffice 1.1.2, the Firefox browser and GNOME 2.8 desktop, as well as support for for Security Enhanced Linux (SELinux).

The company stresses that this first beta is for testing only, and asks anyone who requests the software to report on bugs and hardware compatability as soon as possible.

September 24

Microsoft has issued a patch for Service Pack 2 (see story) that fixes a problem when an application "connects to a loopback address other than," according to a Knowledge Base article on the company's Web site. XP SP2 was blocking connections to all IP addresses in the loopback address range except for

"VPN users were among the most likely to experience problems because of the loopback rejection," notes ENT News, adding, "Microsoft is not the first firewall provider to cause problems for VPN users with its loopback settings."

September 22

VMWare has released beta software called ACE that allows IT managers to apply policies to virtual machines "to create an isolated PC environment known as an assured computing environment," the company announced (see story). These environments "are self-policing, protect enterprise data, and enable safe access to enterprise resources," VMWare says.

ACE can be used to help secure remote computers, guest desktops, mobile PCs and other enterprise systems. There's more information about the ACE beta program on the VMWare Web site.


Worried about SCO's claims that you need to pay them a licensing fee for Linux? "Do not pay SCO without a money-back guarantee," advises British consultancy Ovum. "Unless SCO is willing to guarantee a full refund in the event that its claims fail, it makes no sense to pay SCO for something that it alleges, but has manifestly failed to prove, that it owns."


"Iran has become the latest country to edge towards ditching Microsoft in favour of a Linux solution, even if its refusal to abide by copyright laws means that the Islamic republic does not pay a penny to Bill Gates," AFP reports.

"According to Mohammad Sephery-Rad, the man in charge of the Islamic regime's computer systems, long-term political and security considerations have sparked a major initiative to make the switch."


Not that Gartner veep Victor Wheatman is scoffing at stability and security of Microsoft code, but ... "We've been in the biggest beta test in history and this test is still going on: It's called Windows," he told attendees at a Gartner security conference in London this week (see story).


However, other analysts have voiced approval of some new Microsoft releases. Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 fixes "key shortcomings" of earlier versions and "will be able to gain significant traction in the Windows server platform management space," says Forrester Research's Thomas Mendel.

September 13

The Free Standards Group has released a set of standards for Linux, LSB 2.0, in an effort to "impose a measure of discipline" on the sometimes free-wheeling open-source development effort, Red Herring notes. "Analysts and industry experts say the very thing that makes Linux attractive -- its open nature -- also makes it extremely difficult to tame for use in the marketplace."

The idea of LSB 2.0 is to ensure that an application written to run on one version of Linux will run on all of them, LinuxInsider notes.

"If the Linux industry can unite and pull this off, there's a real shot at a true open alternative to Microsoft," Jim Simlin of the Free Standards Group told LinuxInsider.

September 13

IBM is making some more contributions to the open-source movement, offering Reusable Dialog Components (RDCs) to the Apache Software Foundation and proposing a project at the Eclipse Foundation, the company announced.

"Developed by IBM Research, RDCs are Java Server Page tags that enable dynamic development of voice applications and multimodal user interfaces," according to a company press release.

The Eclipse project "is aimed at making it easier for developers to write standards-based speech applications as well as create and utilize RDCs within those applications," the company says. IBM has offered to donate markup editors for speech standards established by the World Wide Web Consortium. Other backers of the plan include AT&T, Cisco, Motorola, Nortel and Siebel.

Says an article slated for publication in next week's Newsweek: "[I]n the past year, the corporation known as Big Blue has seen its reputation in the global open-source community shift from suspect sugar daddy to knight in shining armor.

"IBM is now the giant standing between Linux and what the open-source community sees as a Microsoft front company bent on destroying their free paradise."


As more open-source software moves into enterprise IT departments, it's important to establish policies governing the use of such software within your organization, advises Gary Barnett, IT research director at Ovum. "Ideally, this should describe the products that are already 'approved' and outline which OSS licenses are acceptable to you (you should also get legal advice locally to determine which OSS licenses you should accept)," he advises. "Your policy should also outline a decision-making process that governs the way OSS is adopted, and which includes an assessment of the risks and the corresponding countermeasures your organizationis taking to prevent itself from inadvertently breaching someone else's intellectual property rights."


Jupiter Media is hosting a conference on identity management, the Inside ID Conference & Expo, Nov. 15-17 at the Washington (D.C.) Convention Center. EBay chief security officer Howard A. Schmidt is slated to give the keynote address.


ScriptLogic has a new version of its desktop management software, "with an eye toward helping corporations support the rollout of Windows XP Service Pack 2," our sister publication Network World reports.

"Desktop Authority 6.0 adds a slew of features, including configuration settings for enabling or disabling XP SP2's personal firewall, and opening and closing ports so that certain applications work properly. The software also has a new administrative interface that provides a centralized view of configuration settings and corporate desktops, and new profile management features for Outlook."

You can download a trial version from the ScriptLogic Web site.

September 8

Business Week takes a dark view of Microsoft's changes in its Longhorn next-generation Windows OS, starting with the headline When Microsoft Can't Do Windows.

"The delay in shipping Longhorn betrays major R&D troubles," starts an analysis slated to be published in this Monday's magazine. "[I]t gives an opening to the software giant's rivals, who are going after Microsoft as if it were an aging prizefighter. With every Microsoft misstep, their offerings become more attractive to both consumers and corporations."

In fact, Linux is poised to take on Longhorn within two years, claims an article on VNU.net. Skeptics, though, note that there have been a lot of predictions about "the year of Linux" on the desktop that haven't come to pass.


Microsoft has a habit of pessimism in its SEC filings, trying to lower expectations so that Wall Street ends up happy with its quarterly financial results. Nevertheless, some in the tech media are making an issue out of the company's latest comments in its annual report, that Linux might be gaining on it in the server market.

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