Softpanorama Open Source Software Chronicle
Vol. 10, No. 2 (0A1). April-June, 1998. Complied by Nikolai Bezroukov

Open Source Software Chronicle







Not so open Desktop ;-)





Richard Stallman received a Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Speaking  at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference, where he got the award Richard Stallman made a piont on why free software is often superior to that of commercial rivals. He said:

"I get messages from people who say, 'I think there's a bug in this,' and indeed, there's a bug in that line. I don't
think that Microsoft [Corp.] gets many calls like that."

Interview  with Midnight Commander developer Miguel de Icaza  was published by Linux Focus



Open Source Movement  Gets Additional Credibility:
IBM Joins Apache Development Team

IBM announced Monday, June 21 that it will join the team developing Apache. Plans call for the company to include the server in other Web technologies it is developing.

IBM redefines the Term "Killer Application."

In view of IBM CEO the killer application will not be a shrink-wrapped program that sells millions. The killer app will be a Web site that touches millions of people and helps them do what they want to do.   Before any of these great apps come online, the business or enterprise must fundamentally decide to change the way they work. And changing the way a business works is hard.

Communicator now has open source and has an edge over IE

Netscape Communicator 4.04 now available for Linux. See also:

A better word processor HTML with WYSIWYG extensions -- some ideas of replacement of Ms Word

XML Extensible Markup Language will replace old HTML
Navigator will be the reference implementation of XML.

Proposed to the World Wide Web Consortium in 1996, XML is a derivative version of Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). The impetus for the language is due, in part, to the fact that the Web has outgrown HTML. As easy as it is to use, HTML is unable to accommodate the more sophisticated Web applications that are emerging today. Enter XML. In addition to being more powerful than HTML, XML is designed to be portable and platform independent. And because XML automatically supports customized Web page elements, such as frames and tables, new sites will be created without the use of proprietary plug-ins.

XML working group in the W3C [World Wide Web Consortium] has -- because the Navigator source code is available -- decided that Navigator should be the delivery vehicle for the reference implementation of XML.

Useful links:

Open Source Operating Systems

The United States Postal Service deployed over 900 Linux based systems

The United States Postal Service deployed over 900 Linux based systems throughout the United States in 1997 to automatically recognize the destination addresses on mail pieces. Each system consists of 5 dual Pentium Pro 200MHz (PP200) computers and one single PP200 all running Linux.  See Linux at the USPS for more details.

Fermi Lab start to support Red Hat Linux
for high energy physics applications

They will support Linux, IRIX, AIX, Digital UNIX, and Solaris.  For this flavors of UNIX for which Fermilab provides core utilities and applications to the high energy physics community.  See also Fermilab for Linux in Fermilab News March 6, 1998 (PDF).

Sun Joins Linux International

In May, Sun Microsystems joined Linux International. It would be interesting to watch how Linux will compete with Solaris on PC platforms (IMHO Solaris looks somewhat archaic with its pretty mediocre tools and utilities).

In a year where Netscape has released their source and many companies have announced that their products will be supporting Linux, I felt Sun's move is mainly a reaction to a fashion. Sun is not planning on selling any products that are bundled with Linux. Sun bundles Solaris with every workstation and server it currently ships.

See mail interview with Charles Andres, a Group Manager in Market Development Engineering from Linux Gazette.

XFree86 3.3.2 Released; XFree oppose to new licensing terms of the Open Group

The XFree86 3.3 distribution is available in both source and binary for all flavours of BSD and Linux (from ).  The documentation can be accessed at Source patches are available to upgrade X11R6.3 PL2 from the X Consortium (now The Open Group) to XFree86 3.3.2.

The XFree86 Project announces its position regarding the recently announced licensing of X11R6.4 by The Open Group (TOG) of Cambridge MA. See XFree86 Position Statement for more details.

Red Hat 5.1 significantly simplifies Unix installation

Red Hat announced on the June 1, 1997  release 5.1 of Red Hat Linux. An update includes enhanced installation features, as well as system configuring, web caching and window management features. Red Hat Linux 5.1 comes with 3 CDs, including the software application disk, and an Installation Manual. Real Audio and BRU provide an additional value and 90 days installation support.

Caldera Open Linux 1.2

Based on Linux kernel 2.0.33, OpenLinux comes with

For additional information please read LJ #50 Product Review Caldera OpenLinux Version 1.2

Caldera announces the availability of the beta version of the Caldera NetWare® Server for Linux. A three-user license version of the beta will be available for download at no charge

Beta documentation and a mail list will be accessible via the Web site. The Caldera NetWare Server for Linux will provide NetWare file, print and directory services running natively on Linux. This is a component of the Caldera Small Business Server, a turn-key software server solution with web-based system administration and e-mail, to be released during the third quarter of this year. See Caldera site for additional details.

Corel will use Linux in it's  NetWinder "Net-computer" and will port all its applications to Linux

Over the past months, Corel has invested significant engineering effort in porting Red Hat Linux to the StrongARM microprocessor. Corel Computer, under the General Public License, will be returning its development work to the Linux community.  Corel will also port all the applications and tools necessary to create an integrated development environment (IDE) for its NetWinder aimed at developers. Concurrently, Corel Computer will open source the platform specific drivers designed for the NetWinder. All code will be available for peer review and evaluation.

Don't hold your breath, though. Corel can change its mind pretty soon if revenue stream will not be sufficient to feed the venture. I remember they promised support for OS/2 and deliver nothing. They also fail to understand limitations of Java and waited a lot of money of trying to convert Corel Office to this unproven technology.

The CPU used by Corel (StrongARM) has very low power consumption (under one watt)   and at 233Mhz will give Pentium 330Mhz a run for the money, espesially on laptops and hendheld computers. So forget about all this blah-blah about NC computer. In reality it is a low-cost workstation like Alpha.

Related links:


Open Source Tools

SQL RDBMS PostgreSQL v6.3 released for Linux

PostgreSQL v6.3 released for Linux. PostgreSQL is a RDBMS SQL server which is the "default SQLserver" shipped with most Linux distributions. For more information:

Beta Version 0.4 of KDE Released

From KDE homepage:

KDE is a powerful graphical desktop environment for Unix workstations. It combines ease of use, contemporary functionality and outstanding graphical design with the technological superiority of the Unix operating system.

KDE is a completely new desktop, incorporating a large suite of applications for Unix workstations. While KDE includes a window manager, file manager, panel, control center and many other components that one would expect to be part of a contemporary desktop environment, the true strength of this exceptional environment lies in the interoperability of its components.

The following vendors ship free UNIX with KDE:

All major VI clones now support Perl and now can better compete with Emacs

Vim is the most "vi compliant" implementation and yet combines the most new features of all vi clones (but not all). See VIM - Why for details. Vim 5.1 support several perl-related commands, like perl and perldo.

Vile 8.0 is the third clone that supports Perl. You can download it from

The PC binaries will appear soon. Among new features

AT&T Released free binaries of KornShell 93

AT&T has released free binaries of KornShell for non-commercial and educational use. Binaries can be obtained through the AT&T website. Click here to download from David Korn website. Supported and commercial versions can be obtained from Global Technologies, Inc.


OFM News

Interview  with Midnight Commander developer Miguel de Icaza
was published by Linux Focus

Midnight Commander is an OFM for Linux originally developed in Mexico by Miguel de Icaza. It later became a successful GNU project (see The Orthodox File Manager(OFM) Paradigm. Part 4). In his  interview in Linux focus (the first multilingual magazine on Linux) he gave an interesting insight into an open source development process. Here is the relevant fragment:

LF: How old are you?

Miguel: 27, no 25. I was borned in 72. Listen I remembered now, I wrote the Midnight Commander when I was 20. That was 94 o 93? I believe so. I remember that I wrote the Midnight commander for Linux. I developed it on the Sun because it was faster than the shitty PC, but it was for Linux. Shit! when was it? I don't remember, I must be in the MC.

Omar Andres Armas Aleman met with Miguel de Icaza and Federico Mena on January 21st 1998. Interview was published in March issue of Linux Focus

Version 4.1.35 of the GNU Midnight Commander Released
GHOME will use Midnight Commander as a Standard Manager

The following was taken directly from version 4.1.35 release announcement:

New Features since version 4.1:

Some of the major changes include:

For more information on the Midnight Commander, please consult

Volkov Commander  Alpha 6 released

This masterpiece of assembler programming (less than 100K) is blazingly fast. Excellent for troubleshooting.  Alpha now has long name support in Win95(but currently not in NT) and archive VFS.  See the paper on OFM for details.

Windows Commander, Version 3.51,

Windows Commander is a Shareware file manager for Windows® 95, Windows NT®,
and Windows® 3.1. Users can participate in the survey, and win one of 10 free licences. Version 3.51 is mainly a bugfix release, which corrects problems with some FTP servers. It also adds some minor new functions, like a remote change attributes (CHMOD) function, supported by some FTP servers, and uploading files as lowercase.

Features in Windows Commander now include :

See the paper on OFM for details.


Java main application is now database connectivity

Java became an important database programming language, but it's future became more uncertain as Sun fail to open the language enough. What is more or less clear now is that Java became a strategic platform for developing database applications. Oracle is 300% committed to Java* (100% on the client, 100% on the applications server and 100% on the database server.

At the same time the rumors that Java is a system programming language seems to be greatly exaggerated. Java mainly complete with Visual Basic and PowerBuilder, not so much with C++. At the same time  Java camp with Microsoft working on its own JVM and HP licensing it make the future of the language in application areas other than databases more uncertain. See also:

Free Dos: Long Live The Underdogs Long Live The Underdogs By Paul Kapustka January 26, 1998, TechWeb News

PC WEEK Creating an express line for downloads

No so open Desktop :-)

Excellent Perl debugger for Windows is now available

ActiveState Tool Corp. - ActiveState Perl Debugger -- "Cool ... I wish it ran on UNIX." said Larry Wall.

Just run Perl with the -d option, and you're debugging!  Remembers your settings, including breakpoints and bookmarks, so that you can focus on your code. Displays scalar variables near the instruction pointer so you can focus on what is relevant as you step through your code. Single and double quoted strings, regular expressions, comments, POD, and Perl key words are color coded to help you navigate your script. Call stack, list and hash dumps, several watch windows, quick eval and conditional breakpoints let you get the information you need. See screen shot.

Perl - Welcome from The Mining Company

Perl for Win32 5.004

Windows 98 released

Windows 95 because so widely accepted that Microsoft would be foolish to go beyond minor upgrades and bug fixes. And it reality it is a minor upgrade produced under the slogan "don't rock the boat". The most anti-Microsoft oriented guys would suggest that Microsoft should pay users for upgrading. after all the upgrade is really important for Microsoft in view of government legal actions. But M$ is a really great marketing company -- it already managed to to get several tens of thousand to pay $30 each for beta-release Windows 98. That was probably the first beta-testing in history that was so profitable to the software developer.

So do not expect M$ will pay you for Windows 98 upgrade right now. I believe there would be quick depreciation of $90 starting upgrade price with free offers, discount, bundles, etc.  Those who want to upgrade should wait at least until the year end or first fix pack for a decent deal as well as more stable version.

Command line version of PKZIP for Win95/NT that understand long file names is finally available

The strange thing about it is that all options are fill word. for example to unpack an archive with subdirectories restored one need to type

PKZIP -extract -directories

So one need to write batch file to use it in an old way. The good thing is that documentation is in HTML format.

Office 9 will be XML oriented

XML will be native format of Office 9, but Microsoft will not discard any native formats for compatibility reasons. The
XML will be used as a way to define objects, such as charts and revision marks. Voice recognition will be added too.

Microsoft trickles out Office plans

IE 5.0 will support XML, will be quicker and more componentized

Beta of the product is ready and looks impressive. Like IE 4.0 IE 5.0 has better cat and paste capabilities on windows desktop than Netscape Communicator 4.0. IE 4.0 was noticeable slower than Communicator even on Pentium 200 or better, but with IE 5.0 this difference is much less.

Windows NT 4.0 service park 4 will contain DCOM via HTTP support

The focus of this service pack in on improving reliability. It will also contain DCOM via HTTP support, a graphical security configuration editor and several other features appealing to corporate audience features including year 200 fixes, Internet Explorer 4.01, NetWare file and print services update. This is the most important of Service packs and it incorporate several new features that will be used by developers including SAP(eurocurrency).

SRVANY.EXE, part of Windows NT Server Resource Kit, allows any Windows app to run as a service.

Hardware: Are Brands Just for Cattle ?

Adaptec Supports the Linux Community!

On June 23, 1998 Red Hat announced that Adaptec support the Linux community by providing Linux developers with tools and information to ensure quality Adaptec products and drivers.

How Much PC Do You Need?

If money were no object, anyone will grab the the latest and greatest. But when money matter the question arise does additional investment provide enough return. Although excess of processing power, RAM, and disk space never hurt is 128M is better than more modest 64M. If yes, now much? May be it makes more sense to buy faster SCSI disk instead of another 64M?  Or motherboard with two CPUs ? The answer depends not only what you are doing, but also what OS are you using. it is probably yes if you are using Linux, Windows 95 or Windows NT.  In any case if its your money it's not recommended to buy a $3000 brand PC. Most people can do much better by selecting and assembling components themself.

CPU based classification of Pcs: Entry Level PC Is redefined as PC With 1 CPU, Power desktop -- with 2 CPU and servers with 2 or more CPU.

With cheaper 2 CPU motherboards, entry level PC is now redefined as PC with 1 CPU. Availability of 2 CPU motherboards and operating systems that support them(UNIX, NT)

US Robotic x2(56K) modem can now be upgraded to V.90

See Users will gain 7 to 10% due to better error handing in v.90. Do not expect more than 45Kbps download though, so it will be twice slower than ISDN).

New Jaz go to 2G

Backward compatible with old 1G use in BASF Corp.   Offers capacity and performance suitable for complementing (or even replacing) IDE HD. The drive can read and write 1GB first-generation Jaz disks and its own 2GB disks, which are still expensive and cost about $130 per disk .

Systems based of 100 Mhz bus are now available

New systems have 100 Mhz system bus and up to 2MB of level 2 cache. Prices on older processors dropped 20%. Intel already stopped wafer production for Pentium with MMX and old 66MHz  Pentium II chips. It's unclear how much perfomance improvment this system will be able to achive.


Doom Source Code for Linux Released

BYTE dies, but articles from the old Byte are now available from

Here is the message that I received:

Byte was purchased by CMP Media Inc on May 29th, 1998. CMP Media owns over 13 computer magazines, including Windows Magazine. The next issue of Byte Magazine is July '98 and it will be mailed to you the week of June 1st - 6th. After that, the magazine will suspend publishing through the summer and have an exciting relaunch in the Fall. The relaunch does not affect the number of issues due you. As a loyal subscriber to Byte, you will receive all issues that you paid for.

It's a pity. I like Byte a lot. The positive side of the story is that it seems that all articles of the ols Byte are now available from the WEB server    

Borland changed its name to Inprise

It will still use the old name for products like C++ Builder, Delphi, etc. It will now concentrate on a corporate clients. Competition with Microsoft for ordinary programmers and educational users seems to be over :-(. But now we have GNU compiler and tools, so situation for those who do not want or is unable to buy M$ products is not that bad.

Copyright 1998, Nikolai Bezroukov. Standard disclaimer applies. As long as this copyright notice is preserved, and any changes are clearly marked as such, the author gives his consent to republish and mirror this text.