LJ Archive



Issue #70, February 2000

Stop the Presses, LJ Index and more.


Let's talk about a campaign platform that really matters: the operating system that supports each presidential candidate's official web site. Can you guess who runs on what? Let's take a look. (Cue the drum roll...)

  • Running on Windows NT or Windows 98: Republicans Gary Bauer and George W. Bush, Democrat Al Gore and Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan. All serve pages with Microsoft IIS.

  • Running on Solaris: Democrat Bill Bradley and Republicans Steve Forbes, Orrin Hatch and Alan Keyes. All but Forbes use an Apache web server. Forbes uses Netscape-Enterprise.

  • Running on BSD: Libertarian Harry Browne. Uses Apache.

  • Running on IRIX: Republican John McCain. Uses Rapidsite.

  • Finally (intensify that drum roll), running on Linux: Independent candidate Bob Smith and Reform Party candidate Donald Trump (arguably the poorest and richest guys in the race). Both use Apache.

While it shouldn't count, the domain squatter who owns johnmccain.com and patbuchanan.com runs Apache on Linux.

Our source for this trivia is Netcraft (http://www.netcraft.com/whats/). If you have time on your hands, it might be interesting to see if any of these guys have swapped servers since we took this survey.

—Doc Searls


Back when I did market consulting, I filtered client candidates by asking them to agree with my marketing logic:

  1. Markets are conversations.

  2. Conversation is fire.

  3. Marketing is arson.

I've never met a marketer with a better instinct for arson than Donald B. Marti, former proprietor of Electric Lichen and now a Technical Marketing Manager with VA Linux Systems. Don is a gonzo marketer of the highest order. Talk about starting fires; Don is the guy who discovered the silly Unisys patent on the .GIF compression algorithm, made a lovely stink about it, then staged “Burn all GIFs Day”, along with a web site (http://www.burnallgifs.org/) to coordinate and commemorate the event.

Don was also a prime mover behind “Windows Refund Day”, and he's the skilled hacker behind one of the Web's great memes: the operating system sucks-rules-o-meter (http://srom.zgp.org/).

More than a great incendiary, Don is a revolutionary thinker. Here are just two lines he dropped in a recent conversation:

“Now it's time to hack the real world and let other people write web sites about it.”

“The Sucks-Rules-O-Meter is the first crude attempt to do the opposite of advertising—in which the customers do the writing and the supplier does the reading.”

Here at Linux Journal, we are adopting the sucks-rules system to keep tabs on what people really say about the various Linux distributions Hey, it's too good a hack not to use.

—Doc Searls


While Microsoft and AOL were joined in an Instant Messaging (IM) “war” last fall, the open-source development community did what it does best. It hacked together a working alternative that outdoes both rivals by doing what neither party seems to know how to do: work with everybody else for the benefit of not just the customer, but the whole marketplace.

The project is Jabber. Think of Jabber as the Linux of Instant Messaging. Then think of Jeramie Miller as the Linus Torvalds of Jabber. About two years ago, Miller became annoyed with the popular but inflexible and proprietary messaging systems from AOL and Mirabilis (since bought by AOL), and came up with the idea for an instant-messaging system that would be open and able to do things the other systems could not, such as keep up with multiple clients running at once.

Just as it happened with Linux, a devoted group of developers and users quickly joined in and got to work. Using XML, they created a “transport” between any and all IM platforms. Among other things. osOpinion calls it “the end of instant messaging as we know it”.

At the most practical level, this means users of AIM (AOL Instant Messaging), ICQ (AOL's own alternative) and Microsoft's new messaging system will all be reconciled by a new, independent, open-source IM platform. It also means Linux users, still ignored by AOL and Microsoft, can not only participate in the instant-messaging movement, but clear its evolutionary path as well.

Looking ahead on that same path are at least two commercial companies: Webb Interactive Services and Corel. Webb's president is Perry Evans, perhaps best known for creating Mapquest a few years back. Mr. Evans liked Jabber so much he hired Mr. Miller for similar reasons as Transmeta hired Mr. Torvalds. Webb and Corel are now partnering to include Jabber in Corel's new Linux distribution, among other things.

To join the Jabber development conversation, or to participate any other way you like, visit http://www.jabber.org/.

—Doc Searls

LJ INDEX—February, 2000

  1. Amount invested by venture capitalists in Silicon Valley during the first nine months of 1999: $7.7 billion US

  2. Amount spent during the third quarter alone: $3.36 billion US

  3. Percentage increase over the preceding quarter: 27

  4. Largest single investment in the same quarter (for Webvan): $275 million US

  5. Amount lost by Webvan in the first six months of 1999: $35.1 million US

  6. Sales by Webvan during the same period: $395,000 US

  7. Valuation of Webvan's total outstanding shares on November 29, 1999: $7.7 Billion US

  8. Number of attendees at Comdex Fall '99: 400,000

  9. Number of attendees at Comdex Fall '99's Linux Business Expo: 38,000

  10. Positions of Linus' keynote and the LBE as attractions at Comdex Fall: #1 (CBS News)

  11. Number of stores in which AutoZone will install Linux terminals: 2,800

  12. Increase in one share of Red Hat stock after announcing a support deal with AutoZone on November 19, 1999: 22 1/2 points

  13. Red Hat's share price at close of the same day: $236 US

  14. Red Hat's market cap at that share price: $16.279 billion US

  15. Percentage increase in Red Hat's share price since its August 1999 IPO: 1600

  16. Cobalt Networks' annual revenues in 1998: $3.537 million US

  17. Cobalt Networks' revenues for the first nine months of 1999: $13.849 million US

  18. Cobalt Networks' IPO share price: $22.00 US

  19. Cobalt's share price on November 29, 1999: $156.50 US

  20. Cobalt's market cap at that price: $4.272 billion US

  21. Average price per month of DSL service: $30-60 US

  22. Total number of DSL subscribers in the country: 300,000+

  23. Total number of subscribers to cable high-speed Internet access: 2 million

  24. Amount of Red Hat stock sold to Cygnus for the takeover: 6.7 million shares

  25. Value of that stock on the day of the takeover: $674 million US

  26. Current value of the stock: $1.5 billion US

  27. Price of feeding a penguin for one year: $700 US


  • 1-15: San Jose Mercury News, TheStreet.com, Linux Today, CBS News, Hoovers

  • 16-20: Cobalt numbers from company filings with the SEC

  • 21-23: US West Communications

  • 24-26: CNN, NASDAQ

  • 27: Sea World (http://www.seaworld.org/)


Several months ago, we defied the conventional wisdom that says there are no good domain names left. We found earwig.com, bizfloss.com, stoptalking.com, halfcat.com and fubar.mil were all untaken. With good reason, all but earwig.com remain on the block, which means their negotiable value is somewhere south of $35/year.

Maybe you guys can actually use a few from this round. Hey, if they don't work for your domain, maybe you can use one to name your band!

  • coapathetic.com

  • bedkill.com

  • barfwash.com

  • linkfetus.com

  • mailpail.com

  • linuxgoddess.com

  • domainpain.com

  • petsurface.com

  • buttcramp.com

  • fallinghope.com

  • bilespike.com

  • luckfarmer.com

  • umoo.edu

  • nterior.com

  • beerleer.com

  • neithersex.com

  • toygod.com

  • cashbird.com

  • possuminnards.com

  • gyrosnooze.com --Doc Searls


Compaq Computer Corporation has partnered with Sair, Inc., a provider of Linux training material and certification examinations, to become a Sair Internal Training Organization. Compaq will train its key personnel worldwide with Sair Linux and GNU Certificq ASE Linux certification track.

Progressive Systems announced its Phoenix firewall has received certification from the International Computer Security Association, the foremost independent evaluation and certification facility for network security products worldwide. The Phoenix is the first ICSA-certified firewall to support Caldera, Red Hat, TurboLinux and SuSE Linux distributions, further assuring business customers and value-added resellers that Linux is a viable platform for enterprise network security.

SuSE Linux AG, Europe's leading Linux distributor, announced it has entered into a partnership with VA Linux Systems to co-develop a SuSE Linux software load for VA Linux workstations and servers. The partnership will help extend SuSE Linux's presence on pre-installed Linux systems, while expanding the range of fine-tuned Linux distributions offered and supported by VA Linux Systems in its solutions next year. Co-development is set to begin in December.

Red Hat, Inc. announced the promotion of Matthew Szulik to CEO and president. Szulik, who joined Red Hat as president in November of 1998, has been instrumental in the success of Red Hat Linux, the execution of Red Hat's IPO and the global expansion of the company's open-source service offerings.

Antarctica IT, Inc. and Caldera Systems, Inc. will work together to provide Linux services in Boston and elsewhere in New England. Antarctica IT will provide systems integration and front-line support for Caldera Systems' OpenLinux operating system. New England businesses using OpenLinux will now benefit from on-site support and services obtained from a local service provider. Caldera Systems will provide technical resources, 24x7 telephone support, and experience in Linux.

Stormix Technologies, Inc., a provider of Linux-based software and solutions, announced that Storm Linux 2000 will ship with the full version of Sun Microsystems' StarOffice 5.1a, a leading office suite on the Linux platform. StarOffice is full-featured, interoperable and multi-platform. It is available for free download at http://www.sun.com/staroffice/.

Magic Software Enterprises announced it has merged Canada's Open Sesame Systems with its U.S. operations to more effectively deliver e-commerce and other enterprise-level business solutions and services to a larger North American audience. The merger, which is effective immediately, will enable each company to leverage the other's resources and strengths. The acquisition of OSS' IT business is expected to have a positive effect on Magic's bottom line.

Digi International, Inc., a provider of server-based communication adapters, announced it has joined the Enterprise Computer Telephony Forum (ECTF), publishers of interoperability specifications for the computer telephony industry. Joining as a principal member of the forum, Digi* will take an active role in helping to define computer telephony hardware and software interoperability standards, including the ECTF's computer telephony services platform architecture.

Magic Software Enterprises announced the appointment of Israel Teiblum as president. Teiblum, who has served as chief financial officer of the company since February 1997, will retain his position as CFO while assuming this new role. Jack Dunietz, the company's chief executive officer, has been appointed co-chairman of Magic.

Red Hat, Inc., a developer and provider of open-source software solutions, announced it will be providing on-site consulting, services and support to AutoZone as part of the auto parts retailer's program to base its chain-wide Intranet systems infrastructure on Red Hat Linux. Red Hat's services organization will provide consulting and support services for a network of approximately 3,000 Linux-based Intranet terminals in AutoZone's store locations throughout the United States.

The Linux Internationalization Initiative, also known as Li18nux, has established the initial set of subgroups toward Linux Internationalization: written specification, internationalization system architecture, API/application development environment, graphical user interface, text tools, web technology, input method, typography, globalizable document, inter-application collaboration, heterogeneous interconnectivity, web site administration, localization of web contents and printing. Detailed information can be obtained at http://www.li18nux.org/.

Linux Events

  • LinuxWorld Conference and Expo, February 1-4, 2000, New York City, at the Jacob Javits Convention Center

  • LinuxWorld/LinuxExpo, February 3, 2000, Paris, France


The following articles are posted on Linux Journal On-Line, our web site at http://www.linuxjournal.com/. We wish we had room to print every article in the magazine, but infinite space is just not available. Also, all articles in the current issue and past issues are posted on the LJ interactive site at http://interactive.linuxjournal.com/ for subscribers. Non-subscribers can find all articles for issues 1-32 (1994-1996) on the on-line site.

T/TCP: TCP for Transactions by Mark Stacey is a discussion of the operation, advantages and flaws of an experimental extension for TCP. Learn more about TCP as you read about this new protocol designed to address the need for a transaction-based transport protocol in the TCP/IP stack.

POSIX Thread Libraries by Felix Garcia and Javier Fernandez is a look at five libraries which can be used for multi-thread applications. The results of the authors' studies are discussed in this article. They also give us an in-depth look at threads: how they can be used and controlled in your applications for greatest benefit.

Laptops for Linux! by Jason Kroll is a review of the two laptop products currently available for Linux: the Attache from LinuxLaptops and the AS-LT300 from ASL Workstations. From ergonomics to software, find out all about these two products on-line.

Linux and Open-Source Applications by Peter F. Jones and M. B. Jorgenson provides us with a look at system security and how to build a secure and trustworthy computer platform. Learn about viruses, worms and Easter Eggs and what they can mean to your system. The authors answer the question, “Is open source the best way to get a truly secure system?”


by Doc Searls

GraphOn's stock doubled in November. Early that month, the company took a tack toward Linux with its new Linux Bridge product, and acquired a technology patent protecting its whole Bridge series of products. These products allow users to operate applications on other platforms—essentially using those platforms' workstations as terminals for applications run on servers elsewhere. GraphOn also announced an OEM deal with Corel, which was a big hit at Comdex with its new Linux distribution and application suite. One could almost see the stock rise as the implications (in particular, Windows-to-Linux migration) became apparent.

While at Comdex, I spoke with Robin Ford and Walt Keller, the couple who founded GraphOn. Robin is Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, and Walt is CEO and President. The talk was recorded, and this is the edited transcript.

Doc: What's going on between you guys and Corel?

Robin: Years ago, Corel started developing a technology called J-Bridge, which allows you to access a Windows application from any desktop over any kind of connection. They were doing it because they needed to web-enable their existing applications. GraphOn has that technology for the UNIX and Linux market. We allow people to access a UNIX or Linux application from any desktop over any connection. This is great because you can run an X application over a low-bandwidth line, and it's like running an X server on your desktop. Corel ran into some challenges in their technology about this time last year. They had the core technology—the server part was coming along well—but they needed to put together the protocols and the client. They were already partners of ours for other reasons, and as they became more familiar with our technology, they realized we do this sort of thing for a living. It made more sense for us to carry this forward, as we had the low-bandwidth protocol. Thus, we acquired Corel's technology, which was unfinished at the time, and integrated it with our software.

Doc: And where are you with it now?

Robin: We call it Win Bridge, and we launched it here at the show. We've also “OEMed” our technology to Corel. Thus, any Windows-based application can be served to any desktop, and any Linux-based application can be served to any desktop—over any connection.

Walt: The exciting news for Corel is they can now insert very strong support into the Linux desktop. They can take any of their Windows applications and run them on those Linux desktops. By that, I mean the application is still running in an NT environment, but you can view and manipulate it from your Linux desktop as if it were running locally. That's the beauty of this bridging technology. Complete cross-platform capabilities.

Doc: So this has all kinds of implications for support, migration...

Walt: Yes. It lets people easily migrate into the Linux world. It's a difficult thing for most enterprises. They can't say, “Hey, we're going to switch to Linux”, and it's done. You need a migration path, and this technology provides that path.

Doc: How is this playing out in enterprises you know?

Walt: Well, the most interesting stuff at the moment—to us, at least—is in China. They don't want to deal with sole-source suppliers. They truly like the idea of Linux, and are very committed to it. Yet when you visit the schools, they're training on Microsoft. But the bridge between one and the other is a migration path that we pave. They're figured out ways to do that with server-based technology.

Doc: So you've got three bridges here.

Robin: Linux Bridge, Win Bridge and UNIX Bridge, each a component of a product called Bridges.

Doc: How do you see it playing out in the Linux movement in general?

Robin: Everybody agrees the next step for Linux is the desktop. To be successful, Linux has to be able to run Windows applications. Corel knows this, and they've been very smart about their strategy. That's why they've OEMed the Linux Bridge technology, and why it's very hot already, even though we aren't shipping until the end of December. When we were on ZD-TV, it was the most outrageous thing. Here was ZD-TV talking about server-based computing—serving up Linux applications. They invited people to come to the playpen part of our site and download a Java applet that allows them to run WordPerfect running on Red Hat on our server. It was amazing. We had thousands of people registering to download the Linux server portion of our product.

Walt: What knocked people out was they could sit there on their PCs and run Linux without ever loading it. An interesting concept, and a great way to start down the road to Linux or teach it over the Internet.

Doc: I want to ask you guys about this patent that seems to be a source of some controversy.

Walt: We discovered the controversy entirely by surprise. Obviously, it is not our intention to be out there stifling innovation, especially in the Linux community. We became aware of the patent because some of the people we have in Seattle were developing this technology a long time ago. We thought it was in the best interest of our shareholders and customers that we acquire this patent. It covered taking a Windows technology to a UNIX desktop using the X server—in other words, right in the path of our own product development. So our goal was just to acquire it and remove it as a potential problem, for the good of everybody.

Doc: That's interesting. I wonder sometimes if the reason to get a patent like this is as prophylaxis against the Jay Walkers of the world.

Walt: It is. These things are like baseball cards. You've got to trade them. If you don't have any, you don't get to trade.

Doc: You give yourself the right to be the alpha developer in this space.

Walt: It's a very strong form of protection. The truth is, you can't work in this industry without tripping over patents, and a patent of this type is a very strong one. We had to have it—better us than someone else.

Doc: So you want the Linux community to trust you to use it well.

Walt: That's right.

Doc: Let's go back to origins here. For years, you guys were known as a hardware company. What happened?

Walt: About three years ago, we saw the light. Before that, we were in the terminal business, selling to the X community. We did quite well, but the PC won the desktop. What we actually discovered was thin-client computing. We developed this technology for UNIX in the late '80s; the desktop, the client side, was very thin and all the heavy lifting happened on the server. But we were swimming against the tide in those days, very much against the flow of what people thought client-server should be.

Robin: Desktop-centric.

Walt: And we were going the opposite way. So finally, we decided to get out of the hardware business, take this technology, and make it work on the desktop. We found we were right in the middle of this new Internet conversation which is much more server-centric. Sun snapped it up, then IBM, and we were off and running. We funded ourselves last year, then went public last July, and it's been a real ride ever since.

Doc: I've always been interested in the soul of a company—where it comes from.

Robin: We're a family-oriented company. In case you didn't

notice, Walt and I are married, and the place is very much a family operation.

Doc: Are your kids involved?

Robin: Yes, our daughter works at the company. We welcome people bringing their kids in during the day. It's not unusual to hear little ones in the background. Our people work very hard, often for long hours, so we try our best to integrate having a life with being a Silicon Valley company. Although we've been around for a long time, we behave very much like a start-up. That's our energy—very entrepreneurial—very open-door—not very hierarchical. Walt is involved in almost everything that's going on at the company. It's not a strict reporting structure—just very entrepreneurial and very productive.

Doc: You know each other. That must count for something.

Walt: Everybody here knows each other. This value system we have applies to acquisitions too. We picked up this group in Seattle. The people there had been together for years and wanted to be in on what we have going here. The fit has been excellent.

Doc: You've been around since what, 1982?

Walt: 1982, yeah—a long time.

Doc: Were you married when you started the business?

Robin: No. We got married in 1985. But we were together for a long time before we started out. We just finally admitted to ourselves that it would work out. (laughter)

Doc: That's a great story.

Robin: It is a great story. We've had fun, and we're having more fun than ever now.


GraphOn site: http://www.graphon.com/

Corel OEM deal: www.graphon.com/News/pr-corel991025.html and www.graphon.com/News/pr-corellinux.html

Technology patent: www.graphon.com/News/pr.patent.html

LJ piece on Graphon in China: http://www.linuxjournal.com/articles/briefs/031.html


Have you ever heard six-year-olds reminisce about having been five? I confess I am guilty of this sort of thing, feeling nostalgic for computer games that were state-of-the-art just a few years back. Old is not necessarily bad. Modern software is technically impressive, but how useful is it? Still, I have yet to find a computer game that rivals chess in excitement, or Go in elegance and subtlety, while both games are at least 1,500 years older than computers. You'd think 3-D shooters would bore people to death, or maybe we could do something more creative with the amazing virtual-reality techniques we've got. Anyway, Linux remakes of classic games are cultural oddities; I hope some anthropologist catalogs them. In keeping with the theme of “Linux on the Desktop”, here are some games you can play on your desktop!


Linux gamers tend to have a soft spot in their hearts for the disturbingly popular blast-Bill-Gates-to-pieces games, the family of games in which Bill Kendrick's Defendguin is the newest member. Yes, it's the classic Defender game, only the graphics aren't hollow line drawings. The trick is to save the Penguinoids from being mutated by little flying Gates saucers. In honor of the new journalistic tradition of pulling random quotes and holding them up as though they represent the entire community, here's a stellar line from Digital Ebola on http://happypenguin.org/: “It's quite satisfying to blow Bill Gates up. That alone makes anything worth 5 stars.” Check it out at http://www.newbreedsoftware.com/defendguin/.

Black Penguin

Beetle enthusiast Holger Priebs has delivered the goods for Q*Bert addicts. Black Penguin (“rotund” would be more accurate, and anyway, it's a blue penguin) is a fellow who hops around collecting happy things while avoiding his opponent, the Evil Window. It uses Qt, the sources are well-commented, and it's a good game for Linux newbies to get used to compiling software from the source as well as learn from the source. I should warn you that Qt is not LGPL, but I imagine you've already heard. The home page lives at www.priebs.de/blackpenguin.html.


Fleuch, a Linux remake of Thrust from the C64, comes to us by way of Karsten Goetze. It's available only as a binary for SVGAlib, but maybe we can convince Karsten to open up the source if it turns out the game is popular enough. Pilot a ship by turning and thrusting, pick up a ball, and fly away. According to an anonymous quote from happypenguin, Fleuch “is unmatched in supremacy”. It can be found at http://start.cgirealm.com/meuch/.

Insane Odyssey X

“The greatest game... we've ever made” reads the Insane Odyssey Episode I Trailer. Aaron P. Matthews (coding) and Seth B. Peelle (music and graphics) of Rival Entertainment team up to bring you this futuristic escape from a mental hospital. The scrolling is smooth, the graphics are outstanding, and the game play is fun. It's a cohesive, polished production, one of the nicer-looking Linux games out there. While it's not a remake of a classic per se, it is a remake of a game the author started years ago and didn't finish. With so many 3-D shooters, don't you miss a good platformer? Find this game at http://rival.clan.net/.

—Jason Kroll


Last episode, we got a scrolltext going in SVGAlib, which looked pretty cool. Pair it with some Beethoven and an artsy, scribbled logo, and you've got a happening intro for your next act of brilliance. Ah, but how do we get the music playing? Well, assuming Beethoven is what you want and not some frantic dance pop, we've got to figure out a way to get music into the program.

Years ago, this was tricky. We had to program in assembly code and call a play routine every vertical blank. Before that, pitched beeps had to be carefully inserted into the program, and any deviance from the loop would cause the whole program and/or the music to change speed. Fortunately, today we have multi-tasking machines, so we don't have to bother with anything difficult; we just fork a process or call a library routine. Now the question is, what do we want to do? How to do it is easy.

For music in a Linux program, there are several options. One is to use the sound card's built-in midi synthesizer, which is extremely resource minimal. Xavier XOSXE uses this approach in his excellent, high-resolution escapade SpaceBoom, reserving digital audio exclusively for sound effects. This way, the CPU's resources are left over for the horizontal scrolling landscape and trigger-happy space aliens. Playing midi music is very simple; all you have to do is fork to the program playmidi. And no, it's not cheating—fork is an integral part of the UNIX model. Consider that by using it, you pay homage to the same function that got us past the first init routine. Listing 1 is simple code for starting up your tune.

Just keep tabs on the process ID (PID) so you can kill the playmidi program when you want to change tunes, or when the game is finished. (The SpaceBoom source code, albeit C++, has a more elegant example of how to do this.) With on-board synthesizers improving dramatically, midi files are really a viable option for music. They're easy to create, resource-minimal to play, have small footprints, and are fun.

Another option is to use the time-tested, scene-approved, MODs! From their birth on the Amiga, these things just won't die. MODs are digital audio music files, which basically include audio samples of the instruments, loop points and note data (newer formats include more instrument parameters).

The advantage of MODs is they are digital audio, so you get sample playback, as opposed to midi files which use preset instruments on the sound card; MODs give you more flexibility. The downside is that your CPU needs to dump a lot of data to /dev/dsp, so MODs are resource intensive. For example, at 44,100Hz of 16-bit stereo (CD quality), you'll be writing 16 bits of data to each channel 44,100 times every second—that's 176,400 bytes of writing to /dev/dsp every second, not to mention the calculations that go on within the mod-playing routine (volume, mixing, effects, pitch slides, etc.).

These days, processors are incredibly fast, so MODs are more practical than they used to be, but sound cards have better synths than ever before. Wouldn't you like extra CPU for more intensive graphics? While I definitely opt for midi, most people prefer MODs. If you're making a game on CD-ROM, just record a whole album. Maybe when we all have supercomputers, we can use mpegs in real time. You can choose between MikMod and Midas for MOD playing; MikMod is GPL while Midas is not quite, so in the spirit of GNU, let's try out MikMod. Listing 2 is code for starting and stopping a MOD with mikmod.h.

Next month, we'll finish up on sound for now and take a look at how to use generic digital audio for sound effects.

—Jason Kroll

Listings are available by anonymous download in the file ftp.linuxjournal.com/pub/lj/listings/issue70/3798.tgz.

Figure 1. midi.c

#include <signal.h> /* for kill */
#include <unistd.h> /* fork & execlp */
#define MID "YOURMIDIFILE.mid"
int play_midi(void) {
  int pid; /* process id of playmidi */
  if ((pid=fork()))
    return(pid); /* return process id */
  return 0; /* to placate gcc */
int main(void) {
  int pid; /* playmidi process id */
  long int c; /* just a counter */
  pid=play_midi(); /* here we go! */
  for (c=1; c>0; c++) {
    /* this counts for a while as the music
     * plays. you could do anything here,
     * ie a scrolltext and artsy animation!
  kill(pid,1); /* kill playmidi process */
  return 1; /* and exit our program */

Listing 2. MikMod

/* Check out the MikMod web site
 * for mikmod and libmikmod
 * documentation and tutorials
 * http://mikmod.darkorb.net/
 * gcc -O2 filename.c -lmikmod
#include <unistd.h>
#include <mikmod.h>
int main(void)
  MODULE *module;
  if(MikMod_Init("")) {
       "Could not initialize sound, reason: %s\n",
    return 0;
  module = Player_Load(INTROMOD,64,0);
  while (Player_Active()) {
  return 1;


During the month of November, people were talking about:

  • Red Hat's takeover of Cygnus and what it will mean to the Open Source community. Who will be next? Talk is, it will be Corel. By the time this prints, we may know the answer.

  • Sun Microsystems recently released version 1.2.2 of their JDK (Java Developers Kit). They initially failed to give credit to the Blackdown Team for its early development work. Sun later apologized. Oh, and Inprise helped Sun with the JDK, too. Sorry, I forgot!

  • Everyone talks about the money to be made with Linux. I learned the VA Linux IPO date from my morning barista. Point being, everywhere I turn, people want in on the “Linux” stock. On opening day, VA stock soared and the jubilation was heard worldwide.

  • Speculation as to when kernel 2.4 will be released, along with much discussion of its new features and changes.

—Jason Schumaker


During the past two years many companies have come to support the Linux operating system, but most do not come to open source—their software products remain proprietary. Even those who do open source their software usually do it only for Linux, keeping Windows and UNIX versions closed. On December 7, this trend was reversed in a big way.

Matra DataVision, a French company, announced it would be making its product open source, not just for Linux, but for every platform it supports. And this isn't some little do-nothing product, either. It is an enterprise level product for geometric modeling, ranging from CAD to 3-D geological mapping. Also, Matra is not a small company looking for publicity for their product; its CAS.CADE product accounts for 10% of the total market.

Matra has taken a good look at the Open Source movement and seen the advantages that can be had with an open-source product. The company believes this move will enable them to extend their market outside its current limits with gains, not losses, in profitability. They intend to concentrate their efforts in support and development of technical applications for specific needs of customers. These are exactly the areas most mentioned by advocates of open-source business models. It is quite refreshing to see a major company take the movement so seriously that they are willing to base their whole business model on it.

Matra also intends to give its developments back to the community. They have a team of 50 people dedicated to furthering open-source development in this area and a web site at http://www.opencascade.org/ that is dedicated to open source. I talked to Sana Abou-Haidar, Matra Marketing Manager, on December 10 and she told me, “We have decided to base the business model on the service part, so the development part can be true open source. The license is completely LGPL-compliant.” Our conversation can be found on the LJ web site at http://www.linuxjournal.com/articles/conversations/009.html.

Linux has needed an enterprise-level CAD application, and now it has one—one that not only supports Linux, but is also open source. I wish Matra success and hope more companies will follow their example in the coming months.

—Marjorie Richardson

Potential: Red Hat went from a Linux company to an Open Source company just before the Cygnus merger announcement. This seems to open up a whole new area of “merging” potential.

Fact: The African Penguin is the most endangered of penguin species. This millennium has seen the numbers drop from several million to less than 50,000 pairs. To help, contact SANCCOB (South African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (http://www.sanccob.org.za/).

Penguin Fact: A penguin's eyes are adapted for underwater vision. In air, penguins are nearsighted. --Sea World, www.seaworld.org/Penguins/senses.html

Quote: “I am a wandering anthropologist and trouble-making philosopher.” --ESR at Fall Internet World, NYC.

Fact: A DSL connection is 10 to 25 times faster than that of a 56K modem. Most DSL service performs at a minimum level of 256Kbps. (US West Communications)

Rumorville: Word has it that The Big Red Machine (i.e., Red Hat) may be buying Corel. What affect would this have on Linux competition?

Questions: My repeated attempts to have a short e-mail interview with Bill Gates continue to be thwarted. What questions do you have for “the master”? Send ideas to info@linuxjournal.com.

Fact: VA and Loki are partnering to distribute Debian/GNU Linux in the retail market. Profits will go to Software in the Public Interest. This looks like a win/win situation for everyone.

Predictions: VA Linux and Transmeta will announce a partnering relationship during the first quarter of 2000. —Jason Schumaker, 12-2-99

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