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Editor's Column

(Susan Small)

Sue We've made it - this newsletter is going off to the printer on the first day of December, so you will definitely receive your CD in time for Christmas!

This is also good news for the Sheffield Linux Users Group who are arranging Linux Demonstration Days on 7, 8 and 9 December 2000; see Forthcoming Events on page 20. [Every time I type Linux this stupid software programme changes it to Line - must add more words to my dictionary:)]

There is no special word from your Chairman in this issue because he has not been well for quite a while. We all wish him a speedy return to his robust self.

The Illiad cartoon in this issue also struck a chord with me. I've just started my Christmas present buying and managed to find a web site called "Beanie Zoo". Imagine my delight when I found the Beanie Baby which my niece wants to find at the bottom of her bed on Christmas morning - imagine my horror when I saw the 4-figure price tag! £1,299 for a small furry animal does rather make my think consumerism has gone mad.

Please also note that Council members have specific areas of responsibility and would welcome feedback from members on the services the Group is providing.

I am very heartened to have received three letters since the last issue and you can find these on page 16.

Please accept my best wishes for a very Happy Holiday Season - whatever you may be doing.

News from Owles Hall

(Jane Morrison)

Jane Firstly, some very important news. On 2nd January 2001 the UKUUG office is moving - please note the new address:

PO Box 37

The telephone and fax numbers will remain unchanged as will the e-mail and web addresses. We would be grateful if you could update these details as soon as possible, although all new correspondence etc. will contain the information immediately.

During the first week of January we are planning to move all our equipment and files to the new location, so please bear with us if the telephone or e-mail messages are not answered. We are aiming to be up and running again by Monday 8th January!

UKUUG recent events

The DNS tutorial held on 5th October in London was a very successful day with some 34 delegates attending. We are aiming to organise more tutorials in the next 12 months.

The 'free' evening series started again on 4th October with a presentation by James Gosling - SUN Microsystems Inc. held at UCL; we had an audience of approximately 150.

Just four weeks later we were able to organise another 'free' evening meeting this time the speaker was Dr. Vint Cerf, widely known as 'Father of the Internet' . On this occasion the lecture theatre at UCL could just about accommodate the audience of some 440 people.

Forthcoming Events

You should find an information and booking form for the UKUUG Winter Conference to be held in Newcastle on 8 - 9 February 2001, enclosed with this mailing. The programme looks very interesting and I think this will be a popular event.

The dates have now been set for the Linux Developers Summer Conference - this will be held in Manchester on 29 June - 1 July 2001. Further details will follow in the new year.

Thank you to all members who returned the membership contact sheets enclosed with the last Newsletter. I am updating the database and will be sending a further update sheet in with the UKUUG annual subscriptions that fall due in January - watch out for the subs invoices which I'm hoping to send out in mid January.

The Council last met on 24th October and at the time of writing we are still discussing a suitable date and location for the next meeting; given the problems with the trains, etc. we may revert to a telephone conference instead of a face-to-face meeting.

At the October meeting various 'committees' were set up to concentrate of various topics - see the list below. If you feel that you could contribute to any of these committees and that you have time to become involved please contact me at the Secretariat.

The book review team are doing well, although there has only been a short time since the last Newsletter in October. If you are interested in joining the review team please let me know.

Finally I would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Linux: Small is beautiful

(Justin Davies)

The buzzword in the Linux world lately has been embedded Linux. Linux has always been an extremely portable operating system, but it has always been seen as portable across midrange systems; from IA32 to Alpha processors and everything in between. Only in the past two years has Linux been seen as a viable operating system for small systems. Typing in embedded Linux in a search engine will bring up hundreds of links to companies and open source enthusiasts who have ported Linux to embedded architectures. The most popular drive of the embedded enthusiasts has been porting Linux to handheld PDA systems. The most difficult aspect of porting Linux to these handheld devices is the CPU support in Linux, and thankfully there are only a few CPU architectures that are used in PDAs. The most common is the MIPS and ARM processors, used in the WinCE devices. The most public port of Linux to these devices has been the iPaq from Compaq. Compaq have actively worked on porting Linux to this machine for quite a few years, their first Linux PDA was the Itsy, started as a research project. The machine was used to investigate PDA systems input and power saving technology.

The Itsy consists of a StrongARM processor, 32 MB of RAM, 32 MB of flash RAM, and an LCD display with touch screen capabilities. All of this was bundled together in a package smaller than the palm of your hand. Remember this was two years ago, the power of this machine was equal to most desktop systems, and smaller than any other PDA system out there. The technology used in the Itsy was employed in the iPaq, the specifications are practically the same, but the iPaq is designed as a "popular" PDA and as such comes installed with WinCE and in what has been called a "sexy" outer shell. The good thing about the iPaq is that it stores the OS on flash RAM, so you can replace WinCE with Linux if and when you want (which is usually as soon as you have opened the box).

Just booting Linux on a PDA is great for showing to the other geeks you know, but it is not a productive system. For this you need a good GUI system running on top of the basic Linux system, with of course killer applications to be able to run your life. This way you can impress the geeks and do something useful with you new system.

A company called Century Software, run by Greg Haerr, the father of the tiny graphical system, Microwindows. Microwindows employs an API system very similar to X windows and another API similar to the WinCE API to allow existing programmers to pick up the system very easily. Microwindows runs through the Linux framebuffer, X, or SVGAlib. The most interesting aspect to us in this situation is the support for the Linux framebuffer as it is easy (on a tiny footprint) to implement a framebuffer device under Linux. Microwindows has been employed on just about every PDA that Linux supports the framebuffer on.

As well as the widget set included in Microwindows, there have been ports of other popular GUI widget sets. This includes GTK (very alpha) and FLTK (Fast Light ToolKit), allowing developers to start developing applications very quickly, and on a very very cool platform.


RC5/OGR Update

(David Hallowell)

Nothing much to report in this newsletter about the progress of our RC5 and OGR teams. Our RC5 team is currently in the top 200 overall and we're in the top 100 for OGR-25, I expect work on OGR-26 to commence soon, once work on OGR-26 starts people working on OGR-25 will move to 26 automatically when there's no OGR-25 work units available, once OGR-26 starts I'll update the links on our team page to include the OGR-26 stats. I'd ask all our team members to regularly check http://www.distributed.net/clients.html to keep your distributed.net client (dnetc) up to date as newer versions may include extra performance optimisations. If you'd like to join our team or find out more please check our page at http://www.ukuug.org/rc5/, the UKUUG RC5/OGR team has distributed.net team ID number 2443.

Sun Microsystems Releases Star Office Source Code

(David Hallowell)

It has been known for a few months now that Sun Microsystems planned to release the source code to their Star Office cross-platform office suite, but it wasn't until after the copy date of the October newsletter that the source actually made an appearance.

You can download the source code and find more information about the project on http://www.openoffice.org/. The source code is licensed under a dual licence of the GNU GPL and the Sun Industry Standards Source Licence (SISSL). Some parts of the code will be licensed under the GNU LGPL (Lesser General Public Licence - previously known as the Library General Public Licence).

I've yet to look into the Open Office project but when time permits and we can see what direction the project is heading then I'll write a more detailed article for the newsletter. There's a lot of information on www.openoffice.org and the open office project will be used to create version 6 of Star Office. Star Office has been free of charge since Sun's takeover of Star Divison so you don't have to wait until open office is complete to get a free office package. A link to download StarOffice 5 is on the open office website. Examples of other free office programs include K-Office (the KDE office suite) and the AbiWord word processor and GNUmeric spreadsheet.

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