OS Blog: Windows, Linux Highlights From Around the Web

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Wall Street, however, apparently isn't. "Shares of SCO recently declined 38 cents, or 8.2%, to $4.25. That's about 81% below its 52-week high of $22.29, signaling investors may be losing faith in the Lindon, Utah-based company's Linux battle," writes Ronna Abramson at thestreet.com. "In another indication of Wall Street's skepticism, the short interest in SCO reached a staggering 54.5% of the float as of June 15, according to Nasdaq; that short interest was 21.6 times the average daily volume of the stock vs. a days-to-cover ratio of around 2 a year ago."

What does that mean? Investors sell short when they expect a stock's price to go down, basically by selling "borrowed" shares that they don't actually own; they then buy the shares later at what they hope will be a lower price. Thus, you profit when the stock price goes down; you're hosed if it rises.

"Short interest" refers to the number of borrowed shares that have been sold short but not yet covered (i.e., replaced with actually purchased shares). "A high (or rising) short interest means that a large amount of people believe a stock will go down," notes Investopedia.com.

And what does the court ruling itself boil down to? "The judge ruled that SCO was requesting more information than DaimlerChrysler was required to provide," the Financial Times explains succinctly. SCO had demanded detailed proof that the automaker was complying with its software license.

Meanwhile, SCO's intellectual property case against IBM continues, and may take years to resolve, Jeff Norman, intellectual property partner at the Chicago law firm Kirkland & Ellis, told LinuxInsider.

Note: You can see all of Computerworld's articles about the SCO suit on our special coverage page.

July 21

Linux users are probably safe for now from being successfully sued by SCO over licensing claims, Decatur Jones analyst Dion Cornett predicts in his Open Source Wall Street newsletter.

That's after a Nevada judge granted AutoZone an indefinite "stay" (basically, an open-ended postponement) until SCO's licensing suit against IBM is settled.

"In our view the ruling sets a precedent that will make it difficult for any further end-user lawsuits to proceed," Cornett wrote. The ruling also makes it unlikely that SCO will get more licesnse fees anytime soon from end users worried about legal action, he says.

As a result, SCO "will run out of cash mid-'06 unless it can significantly reduce legal costs, improve the profitability of its core business, or attract additional financing," Cornett adds.

Update: Groklaw reports that a judge today essentially tossed out almost all of SCO's accusations against DaimlerChrysler, the other Linux end user sued by SCO in its efforts to protect what it says is its intellectual property.

"They were, by both accounts, trounced," concludes a summary of two eyewitness accounts of the hearing.

July 20

"The Justice Department has begun looking closely at the next generation of Microsoft's Windows operating system to ensure that it meets the terms of an antitrust settlement reached with the company more than two years ago," the Washington Post reports.

"Renata Hesse, the Justice Department lawyer in charge of monitoring Microsoft's compliance with the agreement, told a federal judge yesterday that the government wants to look at the software, code-named Longhorn, early enough in its development so that it is not presented as a 'fait accompli' that would be difficult to change."

The concern is that as Microsoft attempts to pack more features into Longhorn, it could be "bundling" other applications directly into the OS -- something that critics say helps Microsoft squash competition by unfairly leveraging its desktop monopoly.

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Intel and Oracle have joined the Sun-backed Liberty Alliance, the group said in a statement, while Computer Associates upgraded its membership to a "sponsor." The additions are "putting pressure on Microsoft's Passport as the identity standards battle heats up," according to BetaNews.

But while the Liberty Alliance has 157 member companies, it "has yet to firmly establish itself like its Passport rival," BetaNews says. Both the Liberty Alliance and Passport are focused on developing federated identities, which would allow users to log into different Web sites (and other systems) using the same username and password.

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A major European weather forecasting center has installed a Linux cluster computing system, in order to "evaluate the suitability of cluster technology for broader deployment," Linux Networx announced today.

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is using an an Evolocity II Linux Networx system for its test. ECMWF generates 10-day forecasts for 25 European nations.

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Next year's Usenix annual technical conference will be April 10-15 in Anaheim. Anyone interested in submitting a paper can head to the conference Web site for more information.

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IBM is hosting a Webcast next Wednesday, July 28 at 11 a.m. EDT that offers an overview of AIX 5L technology such as virtualization, dynamic logical partitioning and workload management. You can register here.

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"The French Ministry of Equipment is going to replace 1,500 NT office and infrastructure servers with Mandrakelinux Corporate Servers, a nice little 'Buy French' move," writes Maureen O'Gara for Linuxworld. "There were no financial details."

The ministry has 2,000 NT servers overall as well as 60,000 desktops, she said.

July 6

Ten state and local government agencies have joined to form the Government Open Code Collaborative, aimed at "encouraging the sharing, at no cost, of computer code, developed for and by government entities where the redistribution of this code is allowed," according to a statement announcing the organization.

The group has set up a "code repository" at www.gocc.gov where members can contribute and download code. "Certain portions of the site are also accessible by entities that are observers but have not yet signed the agreement. In addition, there is a public section available to the general public," the group says.

Along with sharing code, the GOCC says it will work together on "software development, best practices and potential solutions to government business problems."

Agencies in Kansas; Massachusetts; Missouri; Rhode Island; Pennsylvania; Utah; West Virginia; Gloucester, Mass; Worcester, Mass; and Newport News, Va. founded the GOCC. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Rhode Island and Harvard University are also supporting the endeavor.

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"In a campaign season of polarization, when Republicans and Democrats seem far apart on issues like Iraq, the economy and leadership style, it is perhaps not surprising that the parties find themselves on different sides in the politics of software as well," notes the New York Times.

"The Web sites of Senator John Kerry and the Democratic National Committee run mainly on the technology of the computing counterculture: open-source software that is distributed free, and improved and debugged by far-flung networks of programmers.

"In the other corner, the Web sites of President Bush and the Republican National Committee run on software supplied by the corporate embodiment of big business - Microsoft."

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Apple Computer Inc. has unveiled the latest version of Mac OS X, dubbed Tiger. The OS features "Spotlight," which the company calls a "new way to find files and information on your personal computer;" a new version of its Safari browser with RSS reading built in and iChat video conferencing.

June 30

Sun has another corporate win for its Linux-based (i.e. non-Microsoft) Java Desktop System, with Allied Irish Banks (AIB) saying it will switch over 7,500 machines from Windows, our sister site in the U.K., Techworld.com, reports.

Sun also said that the government of New South Wales in Australia is moving 1,500 users to its desktop software.

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Several major Linux distributors will be bundling RealNetworks' RealPlayer 10 audio and video software, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says. Novell, Sun and Turbolinux will be including the application in their versions of Linux, while Red Hat will be shipping RealNetworks' open-source player Helix.

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"Microsoft is eliminating many restrictions on the use of the 'shared source' license for its Windows CE operating system," according to WindowsForDevices.com. "The revised Windows CE Shared Source license will increase the amount of source code that Microsoft is generally making available by roughly 25 percent, to more than 2.5 million lines of code which includes the operating system kernel, graphical user interfaces, and more, Microsoft says." This will allow manufacturers to ship products with modified Microsoft code.

June 17

The Usenix annual technical conference comes to Boston June 27 to July 2 (luckily a few weeks before the expected Democratic National Convention madness). It's looking like an interesting agenda, with a plenary session on blending open-source and proprietary software, a panel on the SCO suit and papers on one of my favorite topics, "Swimming in a Sea of Data."

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And speaking of upcoming events, Linux Journal columnist Marcel Gagne will have a book out in mid-September on Moving to the Linux Business Desktop, to be published by Addison Wesley Professional. Meanwhile, just out from O'Reilly: Windows Compatibility for the Linux Desktop, by David Collier-Brown. Looks like the publishing world is expected some PC movement to open-source.

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Microsoft has posted Virtual Server 2005 Release Candidate, "a time-limited version of the software that enables customers to run a broad range of x86-based operating systems concurrently on a single physical server," the company says. You can download it free from Microsoft's Web site.

"Going head to head with a similar server-side solution from VMware, Virtual Server 2005 can't hit the market quickly enough," says Paul Thurrott at Windows & .Net magazine. "[F]or enterprises and midsized businesses still plugging away with NT 4.0, Virtual Server 2005 is worth examining."

June 16

Windows XP Service Pack 2 Release Candidate 2 is now available for public download from Microsoft's Web site. You'll probably want to check out the release notes before installing anything on your system, though.

The finished Service Pack is expected sometime this summer (see story). Microsoft officials have warned enterprise users that the service pack could break some applications.

"The most important thing customers should be doing right now is planning for their rollouts of Windows XP Service Pack 2, which means testing it today so that if there are issues, we get that feedback now so we have a chance to respond to it before we ship the product," Mike Nash, vice president of Microsoft's security business and technology unit, told Computerworld's Carol Sliwa.

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Munich's city council is slated to vote tomorrow on whether to switch 14,000 systems from Windows to Linux, according to Bloomberg News. That would make the city the largest Microsoft customer to switch to Linux on the desktop.

Update: Munich city officials voted a year ago to adopt Linux over Windows, says the IDG News Service; this week's vote is on a specific migration plan "for deploying the open-source operating system and other open-source desktop applications across all departments."

Meanwhile, Norway's second-largest city, Bergen, plans to "consolidate older Windows and Unix servers on Novell Inc.'s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8" (see story). This involves servers only and not desktop systems, and will affect about 50,000 users.

June 14
crash many versions of the Linux kernel, including Linux 2.6.x and Linux 2.4.2x, Linuxreviews.org reports. Users need shell access to a system in order to bring it down -- but with normal user privileges; root access isn't necessary.

Linux critics are likely to cite this as an example that the OS isn't any more secure than the oft-criticized Windows. Linux advocates respond that this problem "is a perfect example of the difference between the Open Source way and a proprietary way," writes one poster on Slashdot. "the information is readily available. There are patches that 'work,' even before a full explanation is available. Now, thousands of people are actively working on a solution, if they so choose. If they don't choose, they can use the proprietary code method - wait for the official vendors to release a patch.

"In proprietary land, a vendor would first sue the person who released the information. Then, the re-iteration that you won't be vulnerable if you use a 'properly configured firewall,' then they'd start working on a fix."

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Have an idea on what you'd like to see in Microsoft's next Windows server OS (the next-generation Server 2003)? Microsoft is currently soliciting suggestions, at WindowsServerFeedback.com . The feedback form is more than dashing off an e-mail with an idea; contributors are asked to describe their scenario, current workaround method and "value or impact to your organization" as well as suggested solution.

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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has agreed to reconsider a patent it awarded for Microsoft's File Allocation Table (FAT), according to the Public Patent Foundation. The foundation had filed a challenge to the patent, claiming it shouldn't have been granted.

June 10

There were some interesting tidbits in SCO's earnings announcement and conference call this morning.

As Computerworld reported this morning, SCO's Unix revenues were down substantially this quarter, in part because it generated just $11,000 from efforts to get business users to pay license fees for its Unix IP. That's not much of a return yet on the $4.4 million it spent on legal fees over its Linux and Unix battles.

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