Date: Wed, 7 Dec 2005 17:49:46 -0500 (EST)
From:"Linux Pipeline Newsletter" <>
Subject: [LXP] Linux Pipeline - 12.07.2005 - Just Say No Linux Pipeline Newsletter | Just Say No | 12.07.2005
Linux Pipeline Newsletter
Wednesday, December 07, 2005

In This Issue:
  • Editor's Note: Just Say No
  • Top Linux News
        - IBM Hops On OpenDoc Bandwagon
        - Novell's Linux Business Gains Steam
        - Mozilla Servers Weather 2 Million Firefox Downloads
        - More News...
  • Editor's Picks
        - Study: Lack Of App Support Stunting Linux
         - Red Hat: Help Desk To The Open Source World?
        - 'Google Effect' Stirs Competition In Once-Staid Markets
        - More Picks...
  • Voting Booth: Firefox 1.5
  • Get More Out Of Linux Pipeline
  • Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

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    Editor's Note: Just Say No

    I spoke yesterday with Tony Bove, the author of a new book I've been reading the past few days, "Just Say No To Microsoft." He reminded me of an important point that often gets lost in the debate over open-source software, especially in businesses.

    Perhaps the most important reason to try open-source alternatives, Bove told me, doesn't involve cost, or performance, or even security, at least not directly. "People need to try Open Source options, because they need to understand that they have options," he said.

    "Millions of people are vulnerable to viruses and other problems, and they always will be as long as they remain part of the Microsoft monoculture. It's up to them, not Microsoft, to solve this problem -- if they wait for Microsoft to deliver the solution, they'll be waiting forever, because it's not going to happen."

    In other words, Tony suggests that people think for themselves and take responsibility for solving their own problems. I warned him that this sort of crazy talk won't get him anywhere, but you just can't reason with some people.

    Thanks For The Memory
    Over the next few months, you can bet that Mozilla and Firefox will continue to be a popular first stop for newbies dipping their toes into the Open Source waters. Fortunately, it now looks like one of Firefox's most notorious and persistent flaws -- its flaky memory management -- won't be hanging around to greet them when they arrive.

    The fact that previous versions of Firefox would sometimes gobble hundreds of megabytes of memory, stopping only when it crashed itself and possibly the operating system, was never a real headline-grabber. Part of this may have been due to the fact that security issues have always played a more prominent role in the contest against Internet Explorer than other under-the-hood comparisons.

    Part of it was certainly due to the hit-or-miss nature of the problems: If you ask any 10 experienced Firefox users whether they ever noticed memory-related performance issues or crashes, you can count on six or seven of them giving you an earful about the problem -- even though the other three or four users won't have any idea what you're talking about.

    And part of it, I'm guessing, is a largely unspoken agreement that making too much noise about the problem would do nothing to help fix it, hand Microsoft a ready-made attack issue, and perhaps rob Firefox of its shot at the big leagues.

    Over the past couple of months, however, I got the impression that something had to change. Complaints about the way Firefox managed -- or rather, mismanaged -- PC memory were getting more frequent, more vocal, and more visible. This could have gotten ugly if Mozilla had failed, for whatever reason, to eliminate a set of problems that many Firefox users, to be perfectly honest, were sick and tired of seeing.

    It could have gotten ugly, but it won't: As far as I can tell, Firefox 1.5 does a much better job of managing memory than any of its predecessors. Besides keeping a smaller memory footprint in general on my Windows and Linux systems (I haven't installed FF 1.5 on my Mac yet), I personally haven't seen a single case of the creeping memory bloat that would, with some of the 1.0.x releases, go as high as 300-400 MB on a machine with 1GB of RAM before crashing.

    What did Mozilla do to fix the problem? How many fixes were involved? Are there still any serious memory-related bugs remaining? I'm still figuring out the answers to these questions, and I'd like to hear from some of you about this topic, as well. This has been a fascinating, confounding, and at times downright weird story to follow over the past year, and I have the feeling we're still a chapter or two away from the ending.

    Matt McKenzie
    Editor, Linux Pipeline

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    Top Linux News

    IBM Hops On OpenDoc Bandwagon
    Even as Massachusetts waffles on its once-solid support for the Open Document Format, IBM is throwing its weight behind the emerging business-document standard.

    Novell's Linux Business Gains Steam
    Novell reports an overall loss in the fourth quarter, but the company's Linux business increased 30 percent to $61 million for the quarter, including a tripling of SUSE Enterprise Linux server subscriptions to 65,000.

    Mozilla Servers Weather 2 Million Firefox Downloads
    Mozilla's servers weathered the release of Firefox 1.5 much better than last year's roll-out of 1.0, a Web performance company said Thursday, with the systems showing no evidence of downtime.

    Red Hat Rolls Out Open Source Directory Server
    Fedora Directory Server, an offshoot of Red Hat's directory server, is fully open source and features 4-way multi-master replication and multi-platform support.

    Wikipedia Tightens Rules For Posting
    Stung when an article incorrectly linking the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy to a former administrative assistant eludes editors and remains online for four months, Wikipedia decides no longer to accept submissions from anonymous contributors.

    XenSource A Real Force In Virtual-Platform Contest
    XenSource delivers its first commercial offering, making good on its promise to create an Open Source virtual infrastructure platform capable of competing against the likes of VMware, IBM, and VMotion.

    IBM's OpenDoc Client Targets Emerging Economies
    In announcing its Workplace Management Client in India Monday, IBM is signaling to countries with emerging economies that IBM's adherence to the OpenDocument format can ensure easy interoperability between systems and platforms.

    Editor's Picks

    Study: Lack Of App Support Stunting Linux
    A recent study finds that one of the most obvious shortcomings of desktop Linux is also the most frustrating to potential users: A glaring lack of software, compared to what is available for Windows systems.

    Red Hat: Help Desk To The Open Source World?
    Red Hat joins several companies in the business of supporting multiple open-source software packages, adding fresh momentum to one of the fastest growing sources of fresh Open Source business opportunities.

    'Google Effect' Stirs Competition In Once-Staid Markets
    Google's move to offer free Web-site analytics, like many of its other forays into new markets, is likely to attract new competitors and drive down prices in a market where a small club of high-priced vendors once set the rules.

    Mozilla Hunts For Video Ads From Firefox 1.5 Fans
    The Mozilla Corp. asks Firefox 1.5 users to send short video spots promoting the open-source browser, promising to use the best submissions as part of an upcoming global marketing campaign.

    Big Blue's Got True Grid
    IBM turns its research might on the scourge of AIDS with its World Community Grid -- and with a little help from 650 million volunteer desktop PCs already involved in the project, creates the world's most powerful distributed supercomputer in the process.

    Voting Booth: Firefox 1.5 -- Hit Or Miss?

    Cast Your Vote Now!
    We've got a new poll question this week, and it's self-explanatory. Let us know what you think about Firefox 1.5, and in a few weeks we'll round up your votes and share the results. Cast your vote today!

    Poll Results:
    Our last poll was up for quite a while, and more than 600 of you voted on whether Google has simply-grown too big to be a true ally to the Open Source community. Out of 641 total votes, 30 percent of you still think Google "gets" Open Source and remains a trustworthy ally, while only 14 percent think it's time to keep Google at a safe distance.

    The rest of you, 56 percent, chose my personal favorite response: Who cares? Open Source is bigger and more adaptable than any corporation -- even Google.

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