Artifical Diamond, Carat and Stick!

Absolutely nothing to do with IT, but some very interesting analogies are drawn here. Not to mention the Wired article concerned is fascinating!

Picture this: Two companies in The good ol’ US of A have just begun Manufacturing diamonds. Not just tiny weeny things for drillbits, but big suckers, 2-3 carats. Picture De Beers, one of the largest and most powerful cartels getting cross.

Okay, you’re an informed joe: you know that General Electric could do this in 1954 using a 400 Ton press. What’s different here is that unlike the GE process, for the first time making them is cheaper than buying them.

When I say cheaper, I mean £80. This is for a stone valued (if it was natural) at £11,000. Not bad: Be Beers are sweating already.

Okay lets head on down to company B: set to make a further paradigm shift: Diamond Semiconductors: It had to happen. Maintaining Moore’s Law needs serious hardware. It’s generally accepted that Silicon will melt into puddles due to heat problems before too long: the solution? Of course it’s Doped diamond.

Ah! So there was an IT link in the end? Okay I admit it. One of the championed processes is a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process that promised to make diamonds large enough for a Semiconductor Substrate. Now we are down to £4 per carat.

You can possibly imagine that De Beers are fractionally annoyed about these developments and here is where the second computing link comes in: World dominating price fixed product suddenly finds itself up against free competition which is growing in poularity and performance every day. Any takers?

Has this whetted your appetite? Read the whole article at Wired. The Companies Websites are on the Links Page

Source: Article By TurboTas

Site Upgrades #3

Hooray! After much messing around I’ve finally got Gallery working as a module on the nuke site.

I tried this a few months ago and I could get either an empty module gallery working or a normal gallery with existing images, but I was wholely unable to get a gallery module with the original images! It just kept erroring, spitting and crashing.

All is well now and Gallery 1.4rc1 is running here. I’ve dumped the old version and all still seems fine. Marvellous.

Welcome message now replaced with a quote of the day (Probably more like week knowing how lazy I am!

Login Dialog back to standard: The enhanced one was too cluttered.

Im Published (ish!)

Yep, I’m actually mentioned in someone elses web site. I sent my Story Of a Million Dollars to NewsForge, and they actually published it (Probably best not to mention that I also submitted it to SlashDot and got it turned down).

As if that weren’t enough, it actually got about 20 or 30 comments. Read the NewsForge article here.

Needless to say, the website has been a bit busier since! Bolstered by this sucess, I’m thinking of the next big thing to shout about!

Spitting Nails from Eric Raymond

Never backwards in coming forwards, Eric Raymond has released a scathing broadside attack at SCO.

An excellent piece of work that makes the Million Dollars seem crap (Okay it was crap), Eric is obviously seething at the Twat McBride and the crooks at SCO.

Follows is the article from NewsForge:

Mr. McBride: Late yesterday I learned that you have charged
that your company is the victim of an insidious conspiracy
masterminded by IBM. You have urged the press and public to believe
that the Open Source Initiative and the Free Software Foundation and
Red Hat and Novell and various Linux enthusiasts are up in arms not
because of beliefs or interests of their own, but because little gray
men from Armonk have put them up to it.

Bwahahaha! Fire up the
orbital mind-control lasers!

Very few things could possibly illustrate the brain-boggling
disconnect between SCO and reality with more clarity than hearing you
complain about how persecuted your company is. You opened this
ball on 6 March by accusing the open-source community of
criminality and incompetence as a way to set up a lawsuit against IBM.
You have since tried to seize control of our volunteer work for your
company’s exclusive gain, and your lawyers have announced
the intention to destroy not just the GPL but all the open-source
licenses on which our community is built. It’s beyond me how can have
the gall to talk as though we need funding or marching orders from IBM
to mobilize against you. IBM couldn’t stop us from

I’m not sure which possibility is more pathetic — that the
CEO of SCO is lying through his teeth for tactical reasons, or that
you genuinely aren’t capable of recognizing honest outrage when you
see it. To a manipulator, all behaviors are manipulation. To a
conspirator, all opposition is conspiracy. Is that you? Have you
truly forgotten that people might make common cause out of integrity,
ethical considerations, or simple self-defense? Has the reality you
inhabit truly become so cramped and ugly?

I’m in at least semi-regular communication with most of the people
and organizations who are causing you problems right now. The only
conspiracy among us is the common interest in preventing the
open-source community from being destroyed by SCO’s greed and
desperation. (And we think it’s a perfect sign of that desperation
that at SCOforum you ‘proved’ your relevance by
bragging about the amount of press coverage SCO generates. Last I checked,
companies demonstrated relevance by showing products, not
press clippings.)

Yes, one of the parties I talk with is, in fact, IBM. And you know
what? They’re smarter than you. One of the many things they
understand that you do not is that in the kind of confrontation SCO
and IBM are having, independent but willing allies are far better
value than lackeys and sock puppets. Allies, you see, have initiative
and flexibility. The time it takes a lackey to check with HQ for
orders is time an ally can spend thinking up ways to make your life
complicated that HQ would be too nervous to use. Go on, try to
imagine an IBM lawyer approving this letter.

The very best kind of ally is one who comes to one’s side for
powerful reasons of his or her own. For principle. For his or her
friends and people. For the future. IBM has a lot of allies of that
kind now. It’s an alliance you drove together with your
arrogance, your overreaching, your insults, and your threats.

And now you cap it all with this paranoid ranting. It’s classic,
truly classic. Was this what you wanted out of life, to end up
imitating the doomed villain in a cheesy B movie? Tell me, does that
dark helmet fit comfortably? Are all the minions cringing in proper form?
“No, Mr. Torvalds, I expect you to die!” I’d ask if you’d
found the right sort of isolated wasteland for your citadel of dread yet, but
that would be a silly question; you’re in Utah, after all.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Sanity can still prevail. Here’s
the message that Jeff Gerhardt read at SCOforum again:

In recent months, the company formerly known as Caldera and now
trading as SCO has alleged that the 2.4 Linux kernel contains code
misappropriated from it. We in the open-source community are
respectful of intellectual-property rights, and take pride in our
ability to solve our own problems with our own code. If there is
infringing code in the Linux kernel, our community wants no part of it
and will remove it.

We challenge SCO to specify exactly which code it believes to be
infringing, by file and line number, and on what grounds it is
infringing. Only with disclosure can we begin the process of
remedying any breach that may exist. If SCO is truly concerned about
protecting its property, rather than simply using the mere accusations
as a pretext to pump its stock price and collect payoffs from
Microsoft for making trouble, then it will welcome the opportunity to
have its concerns resolved as quickly and with as little disruption as
possible. We are willing to cooperate with that.

The open-source community is not, however, willing to sit idly by
while SCO asserts proprietary control, and the right to collect
license fees, over the entirety of Linux. That is an unacceptable
attempt to hijack the work thousands of volunteer programmers
contributed in good faith, and must end.

If SCO is willing to take the honest, cooperative path forward, so are
we. If it is not, let the record show that we tried before resorting
to more confrontational means of defending our community against

Linus Torvalds is backing me on this, and our other chieftains and
philosopher-princes will as well. Show us the overlaps. If your code
has been inserted in our work, we’ll remove it — not because
you’ve threatened us but because that’s the right thing to do, whether
the patches came from IBM or anywhere else. Then you can call off
your lawyers and everyone will get to go home happy.

Take that offer while you still can, Mr. McBride. So far your
so-called ‘evidence’ is [redacted];
you’d better climb down off your high horse before we shoot that
sucker entirely out from under you. How you finish the contract fight
you picked with IBM is your problem. As the president of OSI,
defending the community of open-source hackers against predators and
carpetbaggers is mine — and if you don’t stop trying to destroy
Linux and everything else we’ve worked for I guarantee you
won’t like what our alliance is cooking up next.

And in case it’s not pellucidly clear by now, not one single
solitary [redacted] thing I have said or published since 6 March (or at any
time previously for that matter) has been at IBM’s behest. I’m very
much afraid it’s all been me, acting to serve my people the best way I
know how. IBM doesn’t have what it would take to buy me away from
that job and neither do you. I’m not saying I don’t have a price
— but it ain’t counted in money, so I won’t even bother being
insulted by your suggestion.

You have a choice. Peel off that dark helmet and deal with us like
a reasonable human being, or continue down a path that could be bad
trouble for us but will be utter ruin — quite possibly
including jail time on fraud, intellectual-property theft, barratry,
and stock-manipulation charges — for you and the rest of SCO’s
top management. You have my email, you can have my phone if you want
it, and you have my word of honor that you’ll get a fair hearing for
any truths you have to offer.

Eric S. Raymond

President, Open Source Initiative

Friday, 22 August 2003

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are strictly Mr. Raymond’s, not those held by NewsForge editors or OSDN management. However, it should be noted that NewsForge editors and writers are not being paid or coerced by IBM in any way to write (or not write) about SCO’s recent actions.

2nd Editor’s note: If, as Mr. McBride claims, the amount of attention SCO has gotten from the computer press is a rational measure of the company’s relevance, then — at for least this week — the authors of the sobig.f virus are far more relevant than SCO.

Public Source Code Means Traceability!

Following on from Bruce Perens writings, A journalist at InfoWorld has asked various people for comment including the developer that wrote ‘the code’ and Linus himself.

This article shows that the traceability of code origins is excellent when using versioning tools, plenty of disk space and of course public code!

As much of the article is direct quotes from Perens, TurboTas is only citing a small part of the article.

‘”The obfuscated code example is not SCO’s property,” said Perens. “It was developed by the Lawrence Berkeley Lab in 1993, under funding of the US Government. The code was added to SCO’s version of Unix in 1995 or 1996, he maintained. “SCO took (the BSD) source code, lost the attribution, and now believes it’s theirs.”

SCO disputed Perens’ claims. “We’re the owners of the Unix (AT&T) System V code, and so we would know what it would look like,” he said. “Until it comes to court, it’s going to be our word against theirs.”

The obfuscated sample, which contains networking software, could have been legitimately copied in the Linux source code, because it has been released under a BSD license, Perens said.

But the code was created from scratch and not copied from any version of Unix, according to the Linux developer who contributed it.

Jay Schulist, a senior software engineer with Pleasanton, California’s Bivio Networks says he wrote the 500 lines of code in 1997 as part of a volunteer project for the Stevens Point Area Catholic Schools in Wisconsin. “I used it for helping a local school district in my home town to connect their old Apple Macintosh machines to the Internet,” he said.

Schulist wrote the code, based on the publicly available specifications created by Lawrence Berkeley Labs, he said. He has never seen the AT&T source code, he added.

The Linux hacker expressed surprised that his contribution would be singled out by SCO. “I have no idea why they would even chose my code,” he said. “If they had done any research at all, they would have realized that there was no other way to implement the actual filtering engine.”

Linux creator Linus Torvalds said he had no plans to delete Schulist’s code from the Linux kernel. “I’m not removing Jay Schulist’s code,” he said in an email interview. “We can show where it came from, and there’s nothing strange going on there.”‘

Source: InfoWorld: read the full article here.

Why Did Caldera Release Unix?

Here is an article copied from it’s original source on 01/03/2002.
This article was written by Ian F Darwin, who has been contributing to Unix for many years and is well respected in his field.
Probably the most ironic part is to be found almost at the very end of the article: ‘I guess the real answer is that overall, at this time, the code’s release doesn’t mean very much to the world in practical terms.’

Why Caldera Released Unix: A Brief History
by Ian F. Darwin

Our strangest dreams sometimes take on a reality of their own. In January, Caldera, the latest owners of the “official” Unix source code, decided to release some of the older versions (up to “V7” and “32V”) under an open source license. While not as significant as it would have been, say, ten years ago, it is nice that everyone now has access to the code that first made Unix popular, and that led to the development of the 4BSD system that underlies FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and Apple’s Darwin (which in turn underlies Mac OS X). Since I was active in the computer field through almost all the years of Unix’s development, I’d like to comment briefly on the Caldera announcement in its full context.

“Free Unix source code” was a strange dream for many of us in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and even the subject of an April Fools joke in there someplace on USENET. But then there was Minix, and it seemed less like a strange dream. Around the same time, John Gilmore was working on a project he called “Radio Free Berkeley,” to replace all the encumbered source code in BSD Unix so that it could be free. And many of us worked on small pieces of it; this is why and when I wrote the file command that is on your Linux or BSD system.

While this was happening, BSD was encountering major success in powering the growing Internet (small by today’s standards, but nontrivial). There were many, many university and research VAXen running 4BSD, the first mainstream Unix release to ship with a TCP/IP implementation (around 1983). DEC’s (since swallowed by Compaq) ULTRIX, Sun’s SunOS 3.5 and 4, and Unixes from a variety of smaller, long-dot-gone companies powered the Internet. And they were BSD Unix.

Then came the 4.4-Lite release from the University of California at Berkeley, which was at first believed to be unencumbered. Some very clever people began marketing an operating system derived from it, called BSDI, but they made a couple of minor mistakes: One, they used the term Unix in their marketing, bringing them to the attention of the AT&T lawyers; and two, there were still a few lines of AT&T code in what they were shipping.

The result changed the free software world forever, and led directly to the rise of Linux.

AT&T’s lawyers sued not only the upstart BSDI, but also the University of California. This lawsuit prevented any new BSD releases for a long time and eventually led the University to decide to get out of the BSD business altogether. And, after several years of bickering, AT&T abruptly settled their lawsuit, abandoning attempts to stop “free Unix” and even allowing the few remaining bitsies to be used in free Unixes. And so unto this day, some files in the free BSD Unix’s /sys/kern directory contain this copyright alongside their BSD license:

* (c) Unix System Laboratories, Inc. * All or some portions of this file are derived from material licensed * to the University of California by American Telephone and Telegraph * Co. or Unix System Laboratories, Inc. and are reproduced herein with * the permission of Unix System Laboratories, Inc.

Unix System Laboratories is one of many names that AT&T’s Unix Support Group took on over the years; the Unix trademark was assigned to different corporate bodies within AT&T so frequently that one wag apparently changed the troff footnote macro from “Unix is a registered trademark of AT&T” to something like “Unix is a registered footnote of Western Electric, no, AT&T, no, Unix Support Group, no, Unix System Laboratories, heck, I give up.”

During this long hiatus, when what was by then FreeBSD could have been dominating the free software world, Linux came into the vacuum. We all knew we needed a free Unix clone with source code and, since BSD wasn’t available, we took Linux. It wasn’t really Unix, and it had “this funny GPL thing” attached to it, but it was close enough.

And because of that head start, Linux has overwhelmingly attracted the media’s, and many hackers’, attention, making it harder for the BSD systems (FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD) to grow as popular as Linux. It’s not that Linux is better, or worse, but that it got the popularity first. History shows that first, even if worst, tends to gain power and hold on to it. This is true for Microsoft’s dominance of the commercial and home desktop; it’s true for Unix/Linux’s dominance as the engine for Internet servers; and it’s true for Linux’s dominance of the freeware OS niche. Of course, one exception is Netscape, which has seen its browser share eroded by Microsoft, but perhaps this has as much to do with the long delays in getting Netscape 6 out the door as it has to do with Microsoft’s marketing muscle.

Meanwhile, other events transpired in the realm of Unix. AT&T management backed away from Unix and eventually sold the rights of the system itself to Novell. Novell split what it had bought: It donated the Unix trademark to X/Open and eventually sold the rights for the code to SCO. Mike Tilson of SCO arranged to release the ban on publication of “The Lions Book,” John Lions’ A Commentary on the Unix System, V6. The Lions Book had been circulating in photocopied form from a few originals that AT&T had made available under strict licensing terms to universities and other source code licensees, because it included a listing of a complete, though minimal, V6 kernel. SCO arranged with Peer-to-Peer Publishing to publish the “Lions Commentaries” as an historical record. Later, SCO was acquired by Caldera, a software company (also, by now, known as a Linux distributor) that had earlier partly open-sourced their OpenDOS 7.

Nothing stands still. Apple adapted BSD as the Unix core of its new operating system, Mac OS X. In the process, Apple has taken from Sun the mantle of the world’s largest distributor of BSD Unix systems, and has made this BSD system, though rather hidden behind the Mac GUI, very popular.

Things do tend to come full circle. It was Caldera that, on January 23 of this year, disencumbered the entire source code of Unix, up to and including the Seventh Edition (1979) and its VAX port “32V” from which BSD had started the development that led to 4.0BSD. (32V is basically V7, minus some bits that were written in the PDP-11 assembly language, and the remainder was adapted to work on the VAX.) This seems to mean that BSD Unix is, at last, fully disencumbered, even the few parts that couldn’t be used in the various BSD systems over the years due to residual AT&T copyrights.

Interestingly, Caldera released it under the original BSD copyright. There are many differences between the BSD license and the GPL (GNU Public License), but this is not the time to dispute them. Should Caldera have used the GPL? There is a long tradition of association between AT&T and its successors, and BSD, that makes the BSD license a slight favorite for this code. Linux has its GPL, and Unix has its BSD license. They both have some good clauses and some obnoxious clauses. (The same can probably be said for some of the advocates of each license.)

It’s really too bad they took so blasted long to release it. Caldera has “owned” this for years and not done anything with it. Indeed, some of the public response has been critical, viewing this as an attempt by Caldera to garner publicity by chumming up to the open source community.

Why couldn’t AT&T have freed up old-Unix all those years ago, instead of launching a lawsuit over a few lines of encumbered code? We might all be running something like 4.9BSD instead of Linux had they done so. Linus might not have needed to write the Linux kernel in the first place if he’d been able to run 386BSD or any of its later derivatives on his PC. Ahh, such an interesting question, but one without an answer.

The more interesting question is, What does it really mean? It’s certainly interesting to have a copy of the V7 code that is the ancestor of modern Unixes. It’s interesting to see that the V7 operating system kernel was only about 51,000 bytes. That’s not a module loader like Solaris’s; it’s the entire operating system! And it’s interesting to see that the machines of the day were so slow that the makefile for the Fortran compiler would automatically nohup and background the process of running lint on the compiler sources. But as for practical value, there is little here that has not been superseded by the tremendous growth of free software in the intervening years. It will be harvested by people looking for non-GPL’d programs of various sorts, for example, a non-GPL’d version of diff for use on BSD platforms. But anyone doing that will have to invest a lot of time and effort to catch up with twenty years of development. More interestingly, those of us that teach Unix will have a new code base that can be used in illustrating lectures. Given the availability of all of Unix up to V7, one can study its evolution; much of the later code is of fairly high quality. Thompson and Ritchie knew C inside out, and they were ahead of their time.

I guess the real answer is that overall, at this time, the code’s release doesn’t mean very much to the world in practical terms.

But it does feel good.

Source: Ian F Darwin

SCO Stolen examples were not from SCO owned Code!

Bruce Perens, an acknowledged expert in Linux and free software, has written a damning article regarding the now infamous August 18th presentation.
The article, which you can read on Bruces website here basically details that the examples used in the presentation originate not from Unix, but from other traceable sources.

In the first example, Perens has identified that the code originates from BPF, the Berkely Packet Filter. This code originated in 1993 under the BSD License (although it has roots in earlier goverment funded work).

This code did not find it’s way into Unix until 1996 when SCO used the code (Legally under the BSD license).
Interesting point: SCO must have removed the attribution from their code else they would have realised that this code was not owned by SCO.

Next, there are 4 slides showing Linux memeory allocation routines. These are not ‘proper’ source code as they’ve been hacked around.

Hilariously, the code here (dating back to 1973, I jest not), was released in 2002 by Caldera (SCO) as part of making the old Unix system 3 open source. The Algorithms themselves date back to research work in 1968.
All in all, Perens’ summary is that id these are typical examples, SCO are likely to crash and burn. Good Stuff!

TurboTas comments: Does the ‘official’ copyrighted work registration earlier in the year affect this: Surely SCO have in effect put a stake in the ground saying that ‘We own this and everything in it’? For the case to collapse it will be necessary to challenge this copyright statement?

Source: Article by TurboTas

Space Elevator, 2018 Is Not Far Away

Space Elevators have been the staple subject for Sci Fi writers for years now, but SciFi may be taking a step towards reality, if Tech futures ventures company LiftPort have anything to do with it.

These guys seem to have actually done some homework. Their plans are certainly bold, that’s for sure: their website even includes a countdown timer to the estimated 2018 launch.

The compelling argument for the idea is pretty simple: the only stumbling block to widespread space habitation and exploitation is the huge cost and risk associated with rocket ascents, not to mention the low payload limits.

The main facilitators are the advances (present and future predicted) in plastics and fibre technologies. The quoted technology of choice is the single molecule carbon nanotube. Even in present day terms it has 50% of the required strength when woven.

Liftport paint a picture of a flat ribbon, perhaps 10-12 inches wide climbing (or should that be suspended?) 30K miles to and beyond geosynchronous orbit.

as the balancing weight is beyond Geosync, the weight will actually be trying to fly outwards, and thus will tension the ribbon.

the climb is expected to take around 4 weeks.

Check out the website, these guys could be the people to open the space frontier for all of us!

Author: TurboTas

W32/Nachi.worm. Ridiculous.

It had to happen. W32/Nachi.worm is the clever people finally telling the twits to wise up or find a more secure OS. Perhaps it’s the evil people highlighting how stoopid the DSL/Windows users are.
Either way, this is a bit of an odd tale!
At first examination, Nachi.worm has all the classic hallmarks of a windoze worm: it modifies registry keys. It copies itself somewhere into the Windows directory tree (C:WINNTSYSTEM32WINSDLLHOST.EXE). It runs at boot time and terminates certain programs with extreme prejudice. Generally a nasty piece of work, no?
Well, actually, possibly not. When it runs Nachi looks for and blows away the lovesan worm (MSBLAST problem). It then proceeds to try and download then install the relevant patches from Microsoft direct. The worm self removes on Jan 1 2004.
TurboTas can only assume that the forces of good have decided that if you can’t beat it into the thick skulls of all the windoze broadband users that can’t update their machines, then best do the flipping job for them.
Perversely, but quite properly, the AV vendors have released sigs for Nachi, so it really will only affect the plebs who have no security at all.
TurboTas can’t help thinking that fixing it for them is awful: A option would be to hardwire all browsers to the microsoft update site or perhaps to just change the background bitmap to a bomb. Lock the machine until a paypal payment is made? The list goes on. The bugs go on.
source: Network Associates

TAM finally does the Atlantic challenge

The TAM site has finally done it. After years of planning those
plucky guys have finally flown an 11 pound autonomous model accross
1950 miles of the Atlantic ocean between the US and Ireland.

Maynard Hill and his team have been working at this for some years,
culminating in 4 previous failed attempts. The ethos of using cost
effective off-the-shelf hardware with home-built planes and in house
written software has meant that the team have been happy(?) to kiss
each plane goodbye.

This year they came armed with 4 full planes and were sucessful
on the second attempt, TAM4 having made only around 750 miles a few
days previously.

An operator manually launched and trimmed the plane before
engaging the autopilot software. Guided by GPS, the plane flew towards
Ireland and updated the ground crews via Satellite uplink.

On arrival in ireland an operator took control and landed the plane.

In all the crossing by the 5 foot span plane took around 42
hours, so it’s not fast by any means. Read more about it here at the TAM site.

Article by TurboTas