Weekly news wrapup: Open Source looks at MS security problems


Author: JT Smith

By Grant Gross

Managing Editor

If you’ve just crawled out from under a rock this past week, or you’ve just returned from vacationing in Turkmenistan, you may be among the 17 people who missed the news that Microsoft fell victim to crackers this past week, and the merry band of pranksters got a look at some source code. There were a pile of stories all over the tech news industry, but a couple had more relevance to the Open Source community than others.

Linux Journal warned that reading or downloading anything that claimed to be Microsoft source code could compromise your right to work on free software. Also, check out the Slashdot discussion about that article. Also check out NewsForge business columnist Jack Bryar’s take on the issue.

If you’re looking for a little finger-pointing and paranoia, take a look at the Salon.com article that says Open-Sourcers had the motive to crack Microsoft. And we thought we got enough FUD from Redmond.

We’re laughing with them, not at them

Finally, a couple of stories that make light of Microsoft’s security … lapses, for lack of a better term. Humor site Segfault digs up “news” of Microsoft announcing the release of its source code, in conjunction with “a small company of enterprising young programmers from Russia.” The Register gets its hands on a supposed list of missing items, including the valuable source code to MS Bob. Remember him?

Something new not related to a security breach

Alas, we couldn’t spend all week making fun of our favorite software monopoly. Chip maker Transmeta (employer of Linux creator Linus Torvalds) made some news this week, with the first Transmeta-powered laptops arriving in the United States. However, the laptops received mixed reviews at best, with one review saying the Transmeta’s Crusoe chip sacrifices speed for battery life. Undaunted, Transmeta went ahead with plans for a public stock offering.

Also new on the market this week was the 2.0 version of the KDE desktop environment (is that redundant?). KDE put the press release on its Web site, while ZDNet detailed the new features, including a Web browser and KOffice. One of the first reviews was from LinuxPlanet, which said the new version is really quite good.

If you think Linux is just a little hobbyists’ operating system, more evidence to the contrary this week. An IDC study projected the Linux training market to rise from less than $11 million in 1999 to between $118 million and $311 in 2004. Do you think you’ve got what it takes to train Linux professionals? There’s a venture capitalist looking for you.

New in NewsForge

  • The previously mentioned Jack Bryar wonders why businesses are taking their time adopting Linux on the desktop, especially with products like the new KDE out.

  • News editor Tina Gasperson takes a look at the dreaded code forking and how likely it is to affect Linux.

  • Columnist Emmett Plant thought he was pretty cool until his roommate at the Atlanta Linux Showcase showed Emmett what he was using Linux to do on his machine.

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