December 10, 2001

Weekly news wrap-up: Linux made easy; the never-ending text editor debate

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -

A couple of NewsForge/Linux.com stories seemed to touch a nerve -- or at least inspire some lively discussion -- this week. Robin "Roblimo" Miller, our fearless editor in chief, gently scolded advanced Linux users in his opinion piece, Making Linux harder than it is.

Miller's point: The command line-loving veterans can scare newbies and non-geek users of Linux off by making it look like it's beyond the abilities of a user who just wants to browse the Web, write documents, make pie charts, or balance a checkbook. In reality, Linux can do all those things in a way that looks much like most other operating systems. Check out the comments on the story; as I write this, there are more than 90.

A much geekier debate, but a fun one nonetheless, was one sparked by Joab Jackson's EMACS vs. vi: The endless geek 'holy war', a history of the good-natured fight between devotees of the two popular Unix/Linux text editors. It's a good read, and the comments are entertaining, too.

In other news this week, one LCD maker is predicting that Linux will grow to capture 10% of the handheld market by 2003. Jocob Lin, general manager of Taiwanese LCD maker Picvue Electronics, predicts Palm will lose its market lead to Microsoft, partly because of Linux's growth.

Along those lines, Sharp Electronics this week debuted its remade Zaurus handheld, powered by Linux. The new Zaurus features a 16-bit color TFT screen, a 206MHz Intel StrongARM processor and 64MB of memory, and if it goes over well, Sharp may roll out other Linux products.

In quasi-related news, one publication is questioning whether embedded Linux is a bust. Embedded.com suggests that Linux isn't exactly fit for small systems. Hmmmm, that seems to contradict the last two news items.

In news from out favorite monopolist, Microsoft's Bill Gates admits to a British teen that his computer crashes sometimes, too. Well, Bill, we hate to tell you this but it might not crash so much if you used some other operating system.

Despite an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice in its antitrust case, Microsoft seems to have some continuing legal problems as well. Nine states and the District of Columbia want the software giant to open up its source code, should the company not comply with proposed restrictions on its business practices. Should that happen, Bill, we'd welcome you into the Open Source community. There's room for one more!

New releases

Intel is promoting VP3, a new Open Source video format that shows promise for transferring video on relatively low-speed connections.

Ximian released its Evolution 1.0 mail client/address book/calendaring package, and freelancer Joe Barr had the details. The company also announced the future release of an Evolution plug-in called Ximian Connector Exchange 2000, which should allow Evolution users to seamlessly interact with Microsoft Exchange 2000 servers.

Not a software release, but IBM and several partners announced the Eclipse.org project, based on IBM's Open-Sourcing of its Eclipse software tools development platform.

Linux distribution MandrakeSoft announced MandrakeSecure, a Web site dedicated to Mandrake security, of course.

Browser company Opera released Opera 6.0 for Linux and freelance reviewer F. Grant Robertson was quite impressed, even if you have to shell out $35 for it.

Success story of the week

Tommy Hilfiger, the clothing company, chose Linux and IBM for its e-business infrastructure, the company announced this week. The company was sold on the system's performance and reliability.

On the other hand, the British royal family's Web hosting company dumped Linux in favor of Microsoft product. But who's cooler, really -- Tommy Hilfiger or the Queen Mum?

Newly reviewed

DesktopLinux.com reviews Elx, which is calling itself "everyone's Linux." From the review: "My Elx came along with OpenOffice 6, which is significantly better than version 5.2 which I was previously using. I was told by someone associated with Elx that all
applications have been recompiled with gcc 3.02 which makes
them faster than others ... and I did find Elx somewhat faster than my
Mandrake 8 in terms of application loading."

TuxPPC reviews SuSE 7.3 PPC. From that review: "Considering all the positive aspects of SuSE Linux, rapidity, stability, ease of use, enormous amount of included software, the
manuals and last but not least the free 60 day installation support, I think SuSE Linux has made its way to being the best retail Linux distribution currently available for PowerPC machines."

New at NewsForge and Linux.com

Other stories that NewsForge and Linux.com reported first this week:

Business columnist Jack Bryar talks about how some governments and government agencies are considering Linux to get away from Microsoft's famed security problems. Read the comments on this story, too.

We talk to Asset Research & Retention, a financial services software company, about its adoption of an Open Source Web backbone, with help from NuSphere Corporation.

Stock news

It was a mixed week for Open Source-related stocks, with many on our little list making modest to large moves upward for the week, and a handful going south. The tech-heavy Nasdaq ended the week at 2,021.30, down 33.97 points on Friday, but up from 1903.20 a week earlier. The Nasdaq broke the psychologically important 2,000 barrier this week for the first time in months -- a 42 percent increase since its three-year low Sept. 21. Part of the Nasdaq rally was attributed to the news that chip-makers Intel and AMD both boosted their fourth-quarter sales forecasts, suggesting that holiday PC sales are doing better than expected.

In Open Source-related stocks, Borland Software, Caldera and IBM all posted healthy gains; TiVO, MandrakeSoft, and Sun Microsystems all dropped.

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

Company Name Symbol 11/30 Close 12/7 Close
Apple AAPL 21.30 22.54
Borland Software Int'l BORL 14.46 16.89
Caldera International CALD 0.77 1.09
Hewlett-Packard HWP 21.99 23.52
IBM IBM 115.59 120.40
MandrakeSoft 4477.PA e5.40 e5.10
Red Hat RHAT 7.98 7.96
Sun Microsystems SUNW 14.24 13.39
TiVo TIVO 5.21 4.52
VA Software LNUX 2.67 3.23
Wind River Systems WIND 17.20 18.30
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