November 25, 2001

Weekly news wrap-up: France, Germany go for Open Source; North America slow to embrace Linux

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -

Just weeks after the U.S. government entered into settlement negotiations in the Microsoft antitrust case, a couple of European nations are embracing Open Source in new ways.

This week, The French Agency for e-Government announced it would enforce open standards and promote Open Source and Free Software. European Linux groups applauded the move, saying it'd help guarantee open government. At the same time, the German Ministry of Economics and Technology voiced support for a study that advised against patents on software that does not have a technical effect, the U.S. model of granting patents. The ministry said broadening software patents could stifle the Open Source movement.

Meanwhile, NewsForge's Robin "Roblimo" Miller noted an Evans Data Corporation study, which said North American developers have been slower to embrace Linux than developers elsewhere, although the numbers seem to be growing.

Does Dell like Linux or not?

Computer-maker Dell caught some flack this week for its views about Linux. If you remember, Dell announced this summer that it would no longer ship Linux on its desktops. However, this week, Dell announced it was shipping Red Hat 7.2 on servers and "workstations." For those of you who can't figure out what the difference is between a desktop and a workstation, you're not alone. Basically, a desktop is a low-end home computer, and a workstation, such as Dell's Precision line, is a higher-end business machine, and Dell hasn't stopped shipping Red Hat on those, according to the company.

That didn't stop The Register from reporting on a letter Dell sent to its customers in which the company tried to clarify its Linux stance to Linux faithful. The headline seemed a good summary: "Dell begs for mercy after ditching desktop Linux."

NewsForge business columnist Jack Bryar also gigged Dell for its "Linux everywhere" slogan, saying if Linux is everywhere, why is it so difficult to buy a Linux system from Dell?

Stallman on license "freedom"

If you've ever wondered what Richard Stallman and his comrades over at the Free Software Foundation think about a developer's freedom to choose licenses, there's a new essay from Stallman and the FSF's Bradley Kuhn on that very topic. From the essay: "However, one so-called freedom that we do not advocate is the 'freedom to choose any license you want for software you write'. We reject this because it is really a form of power, not a freedom."

Speaking of Stallman, he recently applied for membership in the Debian Linux (or should we say Debian GNU/Linux?) project. That's a development worth watching.

The continuing saga ...

Yes, most NewsForge/ readers know that Microsoft's Bill Gates has claimed that he in effect started the Open Source movement.'s Robert X. Cringely offered another perspective this week that's worth reading. I could claim I'm the best and most handsome technology writer ever, and no one would believe me, but the scary thing is some people might believe Gates. I suppose we can only laugh.

Newly reviewed

Reader Dave Madeley took a look at Red Hat 7.2 and called it a powerful operating system that's highly customizable and very flexible.

There were a couple of reviews of Mandrake 8.1. The Duke of URL looked at the Powerpack 8.1 version and found it easy to use, fast and stable. There's not a better time to try Mandrake, the reviewer says. wasn't quite as impressed with Mandrake's famed install, with the writer taking four tries to install 8.1.

New and cool

Among the new Open Source-related software releases this week:

New at NewsForge and

Other stories that NewsForge and reported first this week:

Tina Gasperson reports on Caldera's Volution Manager, and how it could help IT departments manage their enterprise stuff.

Miller reports on the progress of NetBeans, the Open Source project aiming to help developers produce Open Source or Java applications quickly.

Stock news

Open Source-related stocks and the Nasdaq stock market had a mixed week, with Nasdaq up slightly, from 1898.58 to 1903.20, during the holiday-shortened trading week. That 5-point hike was an increase of less than one half of 1 percent for the week, for all of you keeping score at home. That was better news than the direction of most Open Source company stocks, most of which dropped slightly, with exceptions including France's MandrakeSoft and IBM.

Still, some analysts are predicting a bull market, judging by the rise in the Dow Jones and Nasdaq markets since lows earlier in the year.

Here's how Open Source and related stocks ended this past week:

Company Name Symbol 11/16 Close 11/23 Close
Apple AAPL 18.97 19.84
Borland Software Int'l BORL 13.80 13.50
Caldera International CALD 0.57 0.50
Hewlett-Packard HWP 21.50 20.94
IBM IBM 114.50 115.35
MandrakeSoft 4477.PA e5.00 e5.84
Red Hat RHAT 6.00 5.84
Sun Microsystems SUNW 13.39 12.81
TiVo TIVO 6.00 5.80
VA Linux Systems LNUX 2.90 2.43
Wind River Systems WIND 18.79 18.57
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