March 11, 2002

Weekly news wrap-up: Microsoft threatens to scrap Windows, KDE programming spat

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -

The Open Source community was engaged in two huge flaps this week, one concerning threats by a major Linux competitor to discontinue its products and one concerning accusations that development on KDE, a major Open Source desktop project, is broken.

That major Linux competitor is Microsoft, and CEO Steve Ballmer suggested in a deposition recently released that the only way to comply with some demands in its antitrust negotiations was to pull Windows completely off the shelves. Does anyone find it slightly ironic that a company busted for its monopolistic practices is now threatening the ultimate monopolistic action: Take its toys and go home? I can see a new Windows ad campaign: "If where you want to go today isn't where we want to go, then screw ya!"

Our own Robin Miller asks Windows users how many more reasons they need to stop buying Microsoft products. Linux is cheaper, crashes less and has programs that will open and create all those documents created with proprietary programs that run on Windows, which are soon-to-be legacy programs if Ballmer's serious about his threats.

osOpinion also says it's "time to call Microsoft's bluff."

While we're on the subject of Microsoft ironies, a company exec says it "loves" Open Source, just not the GNU General Public License. Remember, this is the company that, in the last 14 months, called Open Source un-American, Linux a "cancer," and Linux the top threat to Microsoft. Are we witnessing a total conversion? If that's love, I wonder what Microsoft says about something it hates.

KDE flame war

An argument about the KDE 3 development process erupted this weekend, with one observer alleging all kinds of project mismanagement. "The future, though uncertain, is likely to bring the conclusion that KDE 3.0 was the highest profile KDE failure to date," wrote Neil Stevens to the kde-devel list. His complaints include packages missing from the release entirely;
rampant compile problems; and many outstanding bugs.

But the KDE development team issuing a point-by-point rebuttal, saying things aren't as bad as all that.

Other rebuttals, of sorts

Fox News is one of the first mainstream media outlets to call the proposed Security Systems Standards and Certification Act a bad idea. The legislation, pushed by the movie and music industries, would mandate proprietary copy-protection in every digital device and every computer operating system sold in the United States. The first Senate committee hearing on the SSSCA was earlier this month, but there are lots more to go.

NewsForge broke the SSSCA story last September. It's nice to see that Fox News and all the rest are finally getting around to covering it.

Alexander Tormasov, SWsoft's chief scientist, responds to a Sun Microsystems allegation that Linux isn't right for mainframes. He writes: "Sun claims that Linux is 'designed for Intel' and that 'Linux on the mainframe is complicated.' This obviously shows a lack of understanding of Linux since Linux is widely available in Alpha, PowerPC, ARM, and Sparc systems."

Other news ...

Linux company Mission Critical Linux reportedly laid off 90% of its staff this week, although execs there are hoping the company still has some legs.

For something lighter Linux Journal publishes a list of questions that will allow you to determine if you're Linux orphan or widow.

Free Software Foundation leader Richard Stallman is the subject of a new book released this week.

Newly released

Linux kernel 2.5.6 hit the download sites this week.

New Linux drivers for nVidia products were announced.

Newly reviewed

A sneak peak of the Mozilla 0.9.9 browser suite from MozillaQuest calls it the "best Mozilla milestone yet," but isn't all glowing.

Comcorderinfo.com takes a look at consumer-level video editing in Linux.

Newsfactor.com calls the BSD-based Mac OS X "what Linux wants to be."

New at NewsForge and Linux.com

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

Guest writer Josep L. Guallar-Esteve describes setting up Linux for his mom and dad in Spain.

We talk to the founders of Linuxcare about their new project, a wireless public networking program called Sputnik.

Stock news

The Nasdaq ended the week at 1,929.67, an increase of nearly 127 points and the second week of moving in the positive direction. Friday's close, up from the 1,802.74 closing March 1, is the highest close since late January.

Among our list of 11 Open Source-related stocks, only two -- Borland and MandrakeSoft -- lost ground for the week.

At other companies:

Caldera shareholders approved a one-for-four reverse stock split that goes into effect March 14.

TiVO, the TV recording device powered by Linux, reported a shrinking fourth-quarter loss and "strong subscriber growth." The company says it expects to be breaking even by the end of the year.

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

Company Name Symbol 3/1 Close 3/8 Close
Apple AAPL 23.45 24.66
Borland Software Int'l BORL 14.11 14.05
Caldera International CALD 0.52 0.67
Hewlett-Packard HWP 20.21 20.59
IBM IBM 103.02 105.09
MandrakeSoft 4477.PA e4.40 e3.95
Red Hat RHAT 6.50 6.75
Sun Microsystems SUNW 8.93 10.00
TiVo TIVO 6.00 6.39
VA Software LNUX 1.79 1.98
Wind River Systems WIND 12.71 14.47
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