openSUSE launches; OSDL premieres its patent commons; and Japan pursues petaflops

openSUSE launches; OSDL premieres its patent commons; and Japan pursues petaflops

“Geeko” Lives

In his May 2005 “Shutdown” column (available online at http://www.linux-mag.com/2005-05/shutdown_01.html), curmudgeon Jason Perlow suggested that “… SuSE Linux Professional needs to look deep into its roots and re-birth itself as a public, open source project similar to Fedora.”
Thanks to Perlow’s column, Novell announced the openSuSE project at the most recent LinuxWorld Conference and Expo held in San Francisco. According to Novell, openSuSE is a “new initiative sponsored by Novell aimed at promoting the adoption of Linux worldwide.” The project’s home page can be found at http://www.opensuse.org/.

Beginning immediately with SuSE Linux 9.3, users can download the SuSE Linux distribution for free. In addition, developers can access and download snapshots of upcoming releases to gain early access to “bleeding-edge” features and packages, including new desktop environments and desktop productivity applications, the latest version of the Xen virtualization software (see the feature story on Xen 3.0 beginning on page XX), and updated Mono and Eclipse development tools. As Linux Magazine goes to press, SuSE Linux 10.0 OSS Beta 1 is available for testing.
The production release of SuSE Linux 10.0 is slated for Fall 2005 (perhaps even by the time you read this). Like many other Linux providers, Novell will offer a packaged edition of 10.0 in retail stores and online that will contain additional software and plug-ins, documentation, and installation support. No price has been set, but is likely to be less than $40 (without an upgrade e-License).

OSDL Launches Patent Commons

In an effort to create a central repository of patent pledges and available patent licenses, the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL, http://www.osdl.org/) has launched a patent commons project. The patent commons — still in formative stages — is intended to be a single place where developers and industry are able to find and license a growing pool of freely- or readily-available patents.
“Software patents are a huge potential threat to the ability of people to work together on open source,” said Linus Torvalds. “Making it easier for companies and communities that have patents to make those patents available in a common pool for people to use is one way to try to help developers deal with the threat.”
Initially, the patent commons will include a library and database that aggregates patent pledges made by companies and a collection of software patent licenses and software patents (issued and pending) held for the benefit of the open source community. Additionally, the library will also aggregate other legal solutions, such as indemnification programs offered by vendors of open source software.
By contributing patents to the OSDL patent commons project, patent holders can be assured that the right to enforce the patents is administered by an organization dedicated to accelerating the development and use of open source software. Developers can be assured that those same patents will not be enforced on open source software.
More details on the OSDL patent commons project will be announced in the coming months.

Getting Big in Japan

According to Japan’s Education and Science Ministry, the country has plans to build a supercomputer that’s 73 times faster than today’s fastest machine (IBM’s Blue Gene, capable of 136.8 teraflops.
Expected to achieve 10 petaflops, or 10 quadrillion computations per second, the machine will be used to model the formation of the galaxy, study climate changes, and simulate the performance of new pharmaceutical compounds in the human body. The supercomputer — yet to be named — will take six years to build at a cost of roughly $900 million.
Meanwhile, an entirely other kind of Japanese computer now runs Linux. Italian hacker Matan Gillon has ported Linux (and Windows) to the Sony PSP via Bochs, the open source x86 emulator. Gillon admits, “I couldn’t do much with it because there’s no keyboard support,” but the achievement is impressive just the same.

Gillon adds, “If you want to do word processing on the PSP, wait until keyboard support is implemented.” You can download instructions and see more screenshots at http://www.hacker.co.il/psp/bochs/.

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