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DotGNU project looks for ideas, developers during 36-hour IRC meet-a-thon

Author: JT Smith

By Grant Gross
DotGNU, a Free Software Web services project that’s a response to Microsoft’s .NET, is hosting a 36-hour marathon IRC meet-a-thon this weekend aimed at interested developers and experienced contributors to hash over some issues.

DotGNU could be known as the Free Software .NET-like Project That Isn’t Mono, but developers there say the less publicized project is making good progress, with a heavy-traffic email list as part of the evidence.

The IRC meeting runs from 10 a.m. GMT Saturday to 10 p.m. GMT Sunday and is organized into sessions starting every four hours, with the first 12 hours being “the tourist session of the meeting” to introduce new people to the project, according to Gopal.V, one of the event organizers. Among the topics will be .NET, general Web services and “their implications on freedom.” The meeting will be at irc.openprojects.net#dotgnu.

Organizers say the long hours of the meet-a-thon should insure that developers and interested people from across the globe will have a convenient time to chat. But the DotGNU team is unsure of how many people to expect for this kind of event. Gopal.V says the project has 20 to 30 core developers who are working on a variety of proposed Web services projects.

“Also more people (non developers) are expected. I think this will bring more developers, users and testers. (we need all of ’em),” Gopal.V writes in an email. “The GNU project has always been a community project — DotGNU is still unborn as a community, and its all going to change now.”

Adds Barry Fitzgerald, another DotGNU developer: “Basically, it’s open floor for a 36 hour developer meet/hack-a-thon. Anyone is invited — whether you have an idea, need clarification on something that’s being done, or just want to chat about future
possibilities. The goal is to get as much done as possible. The more
documentation and code we get out of it, the better — of course.”

After the first 12 hours, the talk will turn to specific sessions for developers and those interested, including information about the current status of the project. Gopal.V says the group will talk about some features being worked on, including:

  • A C# compiler/runtime that runs purely off GNU programs like Linux and Hurd
  • A groupware suit that supports XMLRPC and SOAP
  • A set of authorization/authentication platforms.

The group will also talk about some new ideas like Web services over Jabber, a distributed execution environment, a P2P virtual remote server and XML standards.


  • Open Source

The end of Blender?

Author: JT Smith

“lowell writes ‘The shareholders and directors of NaN Holding BV, owners of Blender, have decided to terminate all activities of NaN Technologies BV and apply for its bankruptcy at the Amsterdam court. It means that effective today, all technology development and website activities around Blender will be frozen. ‘ Nice app. Too bad really.” Read the Slashdot article and discussion here.

Xdrive announces Unix and Linux support

Author: JT Smith

Xdrive Technologies, Inc., (http://www.xdrive.com) a leading provider of Internet Information and Content Management solutions and services, today announced its online storage and file sharing service support for Unix and Linux platforms.

Xdrive’s service enables Unix and Linux users to access, store and share files though their Xdrive accounts via a web browser-based application. “Our technology extended to support the Unix and Linux platform reinforces our leadership and commitment to provide a broad scope of information management services to every audience,” said Karl Klessig. “The Unix and Linux addendum accompanied by our support for Macintosh and the Compaq iPaq, opens our capabilities to enable usage by almost every user who has Web access on their systems.”

The service enables Unix and Linux users to store files, collaborate, back up and share files though their Xdrive accounts. Members can access, store and share their files through an established Xdrive account via any Web browser that is Java enabled, including, Mozilla, Internet Explorer and Netscape Communicator, among others.

The announcement falls on the heels of Xdrive recent acquisition of the businesses of FreeDrive, Inc. expanding Xdrive’s reach into key vertical markets, augmenting its business categories. The acquisition brings together FreeDrive’s consumer and commercial web-based storage applications with Xdrive’s software and services that provide secure access, storage, backup, sharing, synchronization and transactional management of information distributed via the Internet.

About Xdrive Technologies:

Xdrive Technologies, Inc., a privately held company headquartered in Marina del Rey, Calif., the Internet Information Management Company, provides software products and services for access, storage, sharing, and transactional management of information distributed via the Internet. Strategic investors include SOFTBANK CORP., VERITAS Software, VeriSign, Inc., StorageNetworks, Inc., EMC Corporation, Network Appliance, Aether Systems, Mitsubishi Corporation, NEC Corporation, CNET Networks, Inc. and AOL/Time Warner. Financial investors include Goldman Sachs Group, Wit SoundView Ventures, Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown, Centre Partners, eCompanies-Evercore Venture Management (E2VM), Pacific Capital Group, David Bohnett’s Baroda Ventures, Davis Companies, Amos Hostetter’s Pilot House Associates and J. & W. Seligman & Co. Inc.

FAQ on Red Hat/ArsDigita deal

Author: JT Smith

It’s at Red Hat and answers questions like, “* How does the Red Hat/ArsDigita deal complement Red Hat’s business?”

Command execution in PHProjekt

Author: JT Smith

Posted at Net-security.org: “PHProjekt is a modular application for the coordination of group activities and to share informations and document via intranet and internet … Of course – open source – PHProjekt is free software. Actual version: 3.1a (02.02.2002).

This script is a content management system for websites, much like slashcode or phpnuke.

There problem is in the module filemanager, where you can directly access the module and then define values which would have been defined with the script’s global configuration file had the module not be accessed directly.”


  • Security

RedHat: secureweb mod_ssl buffer overflow

Author: JT Smith

Posted on LinuxSecurity.com: “When session caching is enabled, mod_ssl will serialize SSL session
variables to store them for later use. Unpatched versions of mod_ssl prior
to version 2.8.7 using the ‘shm’ or ‘dbm’ session caches would do so using
a buffer with a fixed size, making it vulnerable to overflow.

To exploit the overflow, the server must be configured to require client
certificates, and an attacker must obtain a carefully crafted client
certificate that has been signed by a Certificate Authority which is
trusted by the server. If these conditions are met, it is possible for
an attacker to execute arbitrary code on the server.”


  • Security

Piracy, or innovation? It’s Hollywood vs. high tech

Author: JT Smith

The New York Times (free registration needed) has a story about the copyright wars between technology groups and Hollywood. “Leaders of two of the nation’s most prominent industries, entertainment and technology, have begun publicly sniping at each other over how to stop consumers from illegally copying digital movies, music and television programs.”

Netscape’s folly: A lawsuit against Microsoft

Author: JT Smith

Salon.com reports that “the loser in the browser wars has filed a private antitrust suit against Microsoft. But the company doesn’t deserve to win.”

SurfControl unveils advanced bandwidth management for enterprise filtering

Author: JT Smith

From PRNewswire: SurfControl, the number
one Internet filtering company in the global security market, today announced
SuperScout(R) Web Filter VS(TM) 2.1, the new version of its high-velocity
filtering software for managing Internet access in the enterprise. Version 2.1
offers advanced bandwidth management options for large corporations, providing
scalable filtering and flexible configuration on Linux and Solaris platforms.
SuperScout Web Filter VS 2.1 was unveiled today at the CeBIT Exhibition being
held March 13th – 20th in Hanover, Germany. SuperScout Web Filter VS 2.1 runs on the Linux and Solaris operating
systems. Including a one-year subscription to the SurfControl URL Category
List, the product is priced at approximately $8 per user, based on an
installation of 3000 users. Pricing is also available for enterprise
environments up to 500,000 users.

Caldera fights it out in the stock market with reverse split

Author: JT Smith

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Remember when people fought over getting Linux company stock options? Today, it’s the Linux companies fighting to keep their stock prices above water. Caldera, in danger of being delisted by Nasdaq thanks to a stock price lurking around 50 cents a share for months, is taking the radical step today of a reverse stock split. For every four shares of Caldera International, stock owners will now receive one pumped-up share.

Caldera CFO Bob Bench explains, “This will drop our number of outstanding shares from 60 million to 15 million. In theory, the price should go up four times to $2 from 50 cents. Historically, though, a reverse split usually leads to a 25 to 50% drop.” So far, as of noon (US EST) today, the stock (now CALDD instead of CALD on the Nasdaq), has dropped a mere 1%. Still, Caldera needs only to keep its stock price above a dollar to avoid delisting.

It’s essential, Bench says, for Caldera to stay on the Nasdaq rather than go to the pink sheets of the so-called penny stocks. Once there, any stock becomes less attractive to buyers at the national brokerage firms. In addition, stock buyers would no longer be able to use margin accounts — credit — to buy Caldera stock. In short, such companies’ stocks become much less attractive to buyers.

While all the publicly held Linux stocks, including Red Hat and MandrakeSoft, have taken hits in the depressed
, Caldera has faced unique problems by being the one Linux company to also embrace the old Unix-on-Intel business by agreeing to buy SCO’s Unix operations in August 2001.

At first glance, the deal has helped Caldera. SCO’s Unix products — UnixWare (now OpenUnix) and OpenServer — and its professional services division lifted Caldera’s gross revenue from $1 million in the year-ago quarter to almost $18 million in the just reported first quarter. A closer look, though, shows
that the SCO cash flow has declined and that Caldera took a $74 million charge in goodwill and intangible assets from the purchase .

Bill Claybrook, research director for Linux and Unix for the Aberdeen Group, thinks Caldera may be ready to turn the corner. He believes that the SCO merger didn’t go well, but that with some of SCO’s old personnel now gone, “the potential is there for them to get rolling. 2001 was a bad year for everyone. The real question is whether they can take all the stuff in place, and make the jump, but they haven’t made the jump yet.”

While noting that in terms of revenue, Red Hat is doing much better, he also thinks that Caldera isn’t on the same path as Red Hat. “When business people think of Linux they think of Red Hat.”

Dan Kusnetzky, IDC’s vice president for system software research, adds that in Europe, when business people think Linux, they think SuSE. Caldera, though, isn’t about direct and retail Linux sales (Red Hat) or Linux services (SuSE), but about providing business solutions using both Unix and Linux on Intel.

Claybrook also points out that Caldera has a strong reseller channel and an installed base of more than 2 million users working with OpenServer, OpenUnix and OpenLinux. Indeed, in terms of small to medium business (SMB) users, Caldera’s Unix operating systems are probably still more widely used than any individual Linux brand.

Unfortunately for Caldera’s growth, that installed base doesn’t want to move from their existing systems. Kusnetzky observes that OpenServer, a mid-’90s vintage Unix-on-Intel system that SCO tried and failed to retire, still sells more copies than OpenUnix and OpenLinux. Kusnetzky even says that the urban legends of OpenServer boxes being drywalled in closets because no one realized that there was a working server in them are literally true. OpenServer costs little, requires minimal maintenance, and can run for years without a glance. It, Kusnetzky explains, is the operating system for people who instead of boasting about their server’s hot new features, boast about having paid a few thousand dollars for a server seven years ago and never having had to spend a penny since.

Thus, one challenge for Caldera is to find compelling reasons for their old SCO users and
resellers to buy new products. Claybrook says, “For Caldera to make money, their buyers need to want to switch from OpenServer to OpenLinux.”

That’s not going to be easy. Kusnetzky says that the Unix-on-Intel business has “seen a dramatic decline. SCO’s [previous ownership] saw grosses of $110 million. The majority of that was Unix system software, training, clustering, and development tools.” Now, the most recent quarter has declined to $60 million. This, he says with understatement, is “not the sign of a healthy business.” He goes on to say that while “we can’t prove a direct relationship, but it seems that Unix-on-Intel users move to Linux with other vendors.”

Kusnetzky adds that while “Unix-on-Intel scales up, most of Caldera’s SMB customers don’t want to scale up on Intel. They want small servers. Many of Caldera’s old SCO business customers can run 40 to 50 users with point-of-sales systems or other terminal based programs on old 486s.” For them, “Pentiums are overkill.” Thus, the multiple processor and other enterprise features of OpenUnix and high-end Linux really don’t interest these customers.

On the plus side, Claybrook says that “their staff is very good” and that the Volution line of network and system management tools are excellent. To him, moving Volution on the marketplace and making Caldera a brand for inexpensive, effective business computing is vital.

Kusnetzky agrees, saying that Caldera has “great products, and great people, they’re just not doing a good job of selling that to people. The power in their existing systems is amazing, at a cost per user that’s much less than a Windows-based solution and have real savings at staffing and help desk costs.” It may not as exciting, but “server-centric computing is cheaper” and Caldera needs to get the word out. He doesn’t think that Caldera’s reseller channel is helping the company do that.

Bench says that Caldera is aware of the issues and working on them. Caldera, however, still strongly believes in its reseller channel and has recently been working to improve it.

In addition, he says Caldera is working with partners on creating new business
applications that can deliver a complete business solution based on OpenUnix or OpenLinux to customers. An early example of this is its Caldera Volution Messaging Server, which is based on Postfix, OpenLDAP and
OpenSSL. These new turnkey business solutions will be sold through its reseller partners.

Bench goes on, “Caldera has been working on tactical plan to move forward and we’ve just completed some very extensive planning sessions. The specifics of this plan will be released in a few weeks.” One major part of that plan will be to produce products and services that will bring Web services to the company’s SMB customers. “These products will require vertical solution providers and VARs to put that solution together and will enable users to move from legacy applications to Web enabled applications.” From where he sits, “vertical integrators and VARs are our competitive advantage.”

Another part of Caldera’s vision is to “build a bridge for all of our customers with the old SCO projects. So that when they are ready to change, the bridge will be there to enable them to move up seamlessly.” At the same time, though, “we’ll continue to support you where you are.” Of course, Caldera hopes that its new Volution products and Web service lines will finally tempt its existing customers to cross that bridge and persuade new value-conscious SMB customers to give the Caldera Linux and Linux-enabled Unix lines a try.

Can Caldera survive to make these plans come through? Stock price or no, Bench says that Caldera actually plans to grow and acquire other companies this year. In part, Bench can make such plans with a straight face because the Canopy Group, with Novell founder and multi- millionaire Ray Noorda, still remains a firm Caldera stockowner and supporter. Claybrook and Kusnetzky also think that Caldera can make it, but that time is running out, and that Caldera must turn the corner by the end of 2002.