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News in General

 New Computer Operating System Rides Space Shuttle

20 Feb 1997
A radically different new computer operating system is controlling an experiment on a Space Shuttle mission in late March. The experiment tests "hydroponics", a way of growing plants without soil that could eventually provide oxygen and food to astronauts. The computer controlling the experiment runs "Debian GNU/Linux", an operating system built by a group of 200 volunteer computer programmers, who give the system and all of its source code away for free. Details are available on the group's web site: http://www.debian.org/.

The space shuttle experiment will fly on mission STS-83 in late March and early April. Sebastian Kuzminsky is an engineer working on the computer that controls the experiment, which is operated by Biosciences Corporation. Kuzminsky said "The experiment studies the growth of plants in microgravity. It uses a miniature '486 PC-compatible computer, the Ampro CoreModule 4DXi. Debian GNU/Linux is loaded on this system in place of DOS or Windows. The fragility and power drain of disk drives ruled them out for this experiment, and a solid-state disk replacement from the SanDisk company is used in their place. The entire system uses only 10 watts", said Kuzminsky, as much electricity as a night-light. "The computer controls an experiment in hydroponics, or the growth of plants without soil", said Kuzminsky. "It controls water and light for the growing plants, and sends telemetry and video of the plants to the ground".

For additonal information:
Bruce Perens,

 Linux Sponsored Penguin

SWANSEA, UK, January 29th, 1997 -- Linux users sponsor a penguin at Bristol Zoo. A bunch of UK Linux fans and Linux World magazine confirms they have sponsored Linus Torvalds a penguin for a christmas present.

"It has taken a bit of time for the paperwork to arrive but it has now been scanned and can be found on http://penguin.uk.linux.org and is now leaving for Finland." claimed Alan Cox, who leads the penguin sponsoring group.

"It's not a suprise given the rumours circulating at usenet" said a prominent Linux developer, "This has been on the cards for some time".

A plaque with the web site name on will also soon appear near the Penguin area at Bristol Zoo which has been selected as the place to sponsor the penguin.

According to Alan Cox, Linus who as well as creating the Linux OS is also responsible for the choice of a penguin as logo, also gets ten free tickets to the Zoo as a result of the sponsorship. "It's not clear how he gets to Bristol Zoo easily" admitted a spokesman who didn't wish to be named.

Linux is a high performance Unixlike OS that is winning major awards and accolades. More information on Linux and the Linux Market are available from http://www.uk.linux.org/ and Linux International, http://www.li.org.

Bristol Zoo was founded in 1836 and is one of the oldest Zoos in europe. It has an international reputation for its pioneering work with endangered species.

A penguin is... oh come on you must know what a penguin is...

For additional information: Alan Cox,

 RSA 56bit challenge

Fri, 21 Feb 1997
Some of you may now know about the attempt to break 56bit RC5 as part of the RSA challenge. 40 and 48 bits have been done. 56bit is a colossal challenge but has been started. Whichever group cracks the key gets $1000.

We are trying to get as many Linux folks as possible involved in the challenge and hopefully as one giant group using the id

and the sheer number of Linux users to stick ourselves on the top of the stats page. [as of Feb 21, the linuxnet team is on the top of the charts with 21million keys per second on 247 hosts.] In the unlikely event we do crack the key the money will go to the Linux Development Grant Fund (Linux International).

To join, ftp the clients from ftp://ftp.genx.net/pub/crypto/rc5 and run them with
./clientname linux@linuxnet.org
or for some clients
./clientname -i linux@linuxnet.org

SMP folks should run one client per CPU.

Non US sites please be aware of the potential crypto export rules...

You might want to run it via "nice". It will then just soak idle CPU.

For more info see:
http://zero.genx.net/ -- info and stats - we want to be top! http://www.rsa.com/ -- RSA - the RC5 creators and challenge setters http://www.cobaltgroup.com/~roland/rc5.html -- linuxnet registry

Alan Cox,

 Yggdrasil approved by The World Wide Web Consortium to develop "Arena" Web Browser.

San Jose, CA -- February 17, 1997 -- The World Wide Web Consortium [W3C] has approved Yggdrasil Computing to coordinate future development of Arena, a powerful graphical web browser originally developed as the Consortium's research testbed. Under the agreement, Yggdrasil will undertake new development and support the developer community on the internet. Yggdrasil will issue regular releases, provide a centralized file archive and web site, integrate contributed enhancements and fixes, create mailing lists for developers and users, and facilitate widespread use of Arena by others.

Yggdrasil's additions to Arena will be placed under the "GNU General Public License", which allows unlimited distribution both for profit and not for profit, provided that source code is made freely available, including source code to any modifications. No exclusive rights have been given to Yggdrasil. Anybody could legally do what Yggdrasil is doing, although the Consortium now considers Yggdrasil the formal maintainer of Arena.

For additional information:
Complete press release and Developer Information
Adam J. Richter,

 Spreading news about great lists of Linux friendly applications

Sat, 01 Feb 1997
From: Gary Swearingen,

I've found a GREAT list of applications compatable with Linux which I think should be announced to the wide audience of the gazette.

a list of Linux software by Steven K. Baum

It's a very comprehensive, alphabetized list of (mostly free) software, which is described in a couple paragraphs, mentioning weather it is available in binary or source, and a link to where it is available. A lot of the entries would be of interest only to someone doing scientific programming, but much is of general interest.

 Another Linux Group

Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 21:25:46 -0600 (CST)
From: Peter Lazecky,

Hi, I have been a long time reader of LJ and it has been a great help to me, and I am sure that applies to many in the Linux Community! Now, my friends on the Net and I have also done something as a contribution to Linux which I thought would be interesting to you and helpful to your readers. This is to create an On-Line Linux Users Group for people interested in learning more about Linux, providing help to other Linuxers, and promoting Linux.

Peter Lazecky, http://www.linuxware.com/

 Linux in the News

Linux in a Gray Flannel Suit, by Jim Mohr, Byte March 1997. A good article -- check it out.

 SmartList for Linux Women!

February 26--A list for women who work and play in Linux is housed at niestu.com through SmartList. The list is called linux-women. If you need more information send a note to outlining what you have tried so far. Since there does not seem to be much out there in the way of women and Linux, it may be fun to check this list out.

Software Announcements

 Dotfile Generator 2.0 Now Available

Wed, 5 Feb 1997
This note is to announce the public relase of The Dotfile Generator version 2.0. Lot's of changes has been made, since last version, which was release for more than a year ago.

The Dotfile Generator is a tool to help the end user configure basic things as well as exotic features of his or hers favorite programs without knowing the syntax of the configuration files, or reading hundreds of pages in a manual. At the moment, The Dotfile Generator knows how to configure Bash, Fvwm1, Fvwm2, Tcsh, Emacs, Elm and Rtin.

You can get a FREE copy directly from our ftp-site:

For additional information:
Complete press release
Jesper Pedersen,

 LASERJET MANAGER 2.5 Announcement

February 26,1997--an upgrade has been announced for LASERJET MANAGER. The version is 2.5. The major bonuses of LjetMgr 2.5 are the ability to directly modify the screen settings on Hewlett Packard printers, and a graphical user interface which is fully localizable and comes with documentation and help pages in HTML pages. The program is faster and used less resources. A single license of Ljet Mgr costs US-$65 and there is a discount for educational institutions and students at 10%. This price includes installation support and one year of free upgrades. You must have a printer that supports PJL.

For additional information:
Richard Shcwaninger at softWorks,

 The BitWizard device driver service.

February 26, 1997
BitWizard is pleased to annouce that it is starting a Linux-device driver service. This means that you can concentrate on creating PC based systems, and we will make the required device drivers for the cards that you select. In general, the driver will be ready within a week or two after we get the hardware and the documentation.

For additional information:
Roger Wolff, , http://www.BitWizard.nl/

 Announcement of Thot structured editor

February 26, 1997
Announced-- the source code of the Thot structured editor is now available by anonymous ftp. Several binaries may also be downloaded for various Unix platforms. You can get Thot version 2.0b at the following URL:


Thot Editor is a structured document editor, offering a graphical WYSIWYG interface under X-Windows. Thot offers the usual functionality of a word processor, but it also processes the document structure. It includes a large set of advanced tools, such as a spell checker and an index generator, and it allows to export documents to common formats like HTML and LaTeX.

For additional information: Opera project pages http://opera.inrialpes.fr
Amaya pages http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/Amaya/


San Francisco, CA - February 10, 1997 - Active Tools, Inc. announced today the release of Clustor 1.0 (TM), a program for managing large computational tasks. Clustor greatly simplifies a common computationally intensive activity - running the same program code numerous times with different inputs. Clustor provides increased performance by distributing jobs over a network of computers and improved task management through a friendly user interface. Clustor provides an intuitive interface for task description and control. It supports all phases of running a computationally intensive task on a network or computers: task preparation, job generation, and job execution. Clustor 1.0 is currently available for computers from major workstation suppliers, including SGI Irix, Sun Solaris, DEC OSF, IBM AIX, HP HPUX and Intel Linux. Clustor 1.0 can be downloaded from: http://www.activetools.com/

For additional information:


February 26, 1997
Electronic Software Publishing Corporation (Elsop) today announced LinkScan, the first and only commercially available linkchecker that operates on UNIX servers. Designed to work on both internet and intranet servers, LinkScan can test over 30,000 links per hour because it uses multi-threaded simultaneous processing.

Elsop's LinkScan reports and SiteMaps may be viewed using any of the standard Web browsers such as Netscape Navigator 1.2 and up, and Microsoft Internet Explorer on any platform including Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Macintosh, and, of course, UNIX. LinkScan can be used by virtually anyone because it is designed to run on industry standard UNIX, LINUX, and Microsoft Windows NT web servers.

Free evaluation copies of LinkScan may be downloaded (less than 80K bytes) from the company's website at:


 Mathworks release of MATLAB 5

January 6 The MathWorks announced the release of MATLAB 5.

In addition to the MATLAB 5 release, major new versions of SIMULINK, the Signal Processing Toolbox, the Control System Toolbox, and MATLAB 5 compatible versions of many other products will also be available. New features in these products include:

that make MATLAB easier to use and learn, and better suited than ever for large analyses and application development.

For additional information:
The MathWorks,
http://www.mathworks.com/ < P>

Published in Linux Gazette Issue 15, March 1997


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