September 2, 2000

Weekly News Wrap-up

Author: JT Smith

By Grant Gross
Managing Editor

Life as a horse race
The news media tends to cover most everything like a horse race. Who gained ground today, and who lost? Who's on the way up, and who's on the way down? If you read enough of the media, you begin to think life is about competition, not cooperation.

In the spirit of the coming summer Olympics, we look at the gold medallists and the also-rans in the Open Source world this week.

Red Hat still ahead, but looking over its shoulder

International Data Corp. released its market-share study this week, and found that Red Hat continues to be the dominant Linux distribution, with more of the Linux market than its next five competitors combined. Yeah, yeah, no real surprise, but what may be a surprise: all of Red Hat's competitors are increasing their market share. While the Linux market grew 89 percent from 1998 to 1999, Red Hat's sales grew only 69 percent.

Linux 1, closed source 0

Moving away from internal competitions in the Open Source community, Linux itself got a boost in the race against certain closed-source operating systems when IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Intel teamed up to form an independent lab to expand the operating system for heavy business tasks. Several media outlets covered the announcement, and LinuxPlanet chimed in with a good review: "The intersection of Linux and high end computing got a lift with an announcement that offers a pleasant splash of substance to end a month that had its share of convention-inspired hoopla and an inordinate amount of fascination with GUIs."

Microsoft minus 1 million, everyone else breaks even

Speaking of everyone's favorite closed-source software company, Microsoft was ordered in Federal Court Thursday to pay Bristol Technology $1 million in punitive damages for engaging in "wanton, reckless" and deceptive business practices.

Pretty Good Privacy misses the gold medal

The Pretty Good Privacy encryption software continued to take hits this week after last week's announcement that it had some holes. Early in the week, security firm Network Associates promised a fix for versions 5.5.x to 6.5.3 the encryption software. Then afr.com.au raised concerns the whole encryption industry: "Network Associates' announcement of a mile-wide back door in its PGP security software is deeply concerning. Not because PGP is the sole means of online security -- on the best estimates, it boasts only 7 million users -- but because PGP is the gold standard, and its breach casts a pall over the entire crypto industry."

Robots 1, factory workers 0?

File this, maybe, under "robots vs. humans": Brandeis University researchers announced this week that they have programmed AI computers design and build simple robot-type machines with little or no human help.

NewsForge highlights this week:

Check out columnist Jeff Field's review of the Tuxtop Quartz 795+ laptop.

Internet veterans Rebecca Hargrave and Carl Malamud are proposing something called "antipatents," as one way to cure what they see as a broken patent system in the United States.

Do you have an idea for a piece of Open Source software but don't have the resources or know how to get it done? Check out news editor Tony Granata's story about Cosource.com, a collaborative, reverse-auction Web site enabling international consumers and developers of Open Source products to work together to fund development.

And for those of you scoring at home: NewsForge posted approximately 450 stories between 8 p.m. Friday night, Aug. 25, and the same time Friday, Sept. 1.

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