July 23, 2001

Weekly news wrap-up: Free Dmitry; MandrakeSoft IPO details

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -

Open Source/Free Software advocates protested this week after the arrest of Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov, who was in Las Vegas to speak at Def Con.

The FBI, tipped off by Adobe, closed in on Sklyarov for his program that allows users to decrypt Adobe's eBook format, a violation of the much-protested U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Sklyarov, of course, is bound by no such law at home in Russia, but if you break U.S. law while living in another country, you might not want to vacation here.

That was the point Linux kernel hacker Alan Cox made Friday, when he resigned from the Annual Linux Showcase committee. "With the arrest of Dmitry Sklyarov, it has become apparent that it is not safe for non-U.S. software engineers to visit the United States," he wrote in his resignation to ALS sponsor USENIX Friday.

Cox' resignation prompted reaction from Linux International executive director Jon "maddog" Hall, who suggested Cox was tilting at the wrong windmill by resigning from the USENIX conference, scheduled in Oakland, Calif., in November.

A bunch of other Free Software advocates and civil liberties fans planned protests Monday in response to the arrest. The Electronic Frontier Foundation first helped coordinate the protests, then asked protesters to back off when Adobe officials agreed to meet Monday. Other organizers of the protests vowed to continue organizing the rallies until Sklyarov was freed from jail. To see if there's a protest planned near you Monday, check the BoycottAdobe.com rallies page. As of Sunday evening, there were protests planned in 18 U.S. cities, plus Moscow, Tel-Aviv, and Munich.

Blame those German lawyers

Speaking of Adobe, the software company was pressuring the creators of the Open Source KIllustrator program to at least change the name of the product for a couple of weeks. There's some question over whether some heavy-handed tactics were the work of Adobe or some independent German lawyers, but the KIllustrator does have a new name, Kontour, as of this week. Even if Adobe wasn't responsible for threatening KIllustrator, there sure seems to be a pattern of over-reaction the past few weeks.

We don't need no stinkin' good economy

MandrakeSoft released details of its IPO, in which the French Linux company hopes to raise about $3.7 million.

Ain't it cool?

A couple of cool items worth mentioning:

Dell has begun shipping Red Hat Linux on servers and some desktops.

The University of Tokyo's Jouhou System Kougaku Laboratory and the Aircraft and Mechanical Systems Division of Kawada Industries Inc. have created a humanoid robot that's 53 inches tall, climbs stairs and runs on RTLinux.

New in NewsForge

Stories reported first in NewsForge this week:

Hardware reviewer Jeff Field runs the Gigabyte 7DXR Athlon motherboard through its paces on Linux and likes its broad range of features.

Warring MySQL companies MySQL AB and NuSphere seem to be headed toward a cease-fire.

News editor Tina Gasperson reports on IBM's new Standards Based Linux Instrumentation for Manageability project. If you're interested, it's looking for a few good developers.

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