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Niakwa On-Line News Brief

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Volume 3 No. 9 Community News & Information May 12, 1999

In this Issue:

* EMAIL, EMAIL, WHEREFORE ART THOU, EMAIL?
* THOUGHTS ON LINUX

EMAIL, EMAIL, WHEREFORE ART THOU, EMAIL?

Recently Niakwa's Internet Service Provider was causing us a great deal of trouble with email, both incoming and outgoing. So we switched to a new ISP. Which made it worse - but only for a few days. Email is now working normally.

We have established a forwarding process from the old DNS to the new one. However, we did experience a short period of time where e-mail was not forwarding properly. As of Saturday, May 8th, these forwarding issues have been resolved.

Please be advised that if you have sent e-mail since the last week in April and we did not respond, please resend the e-mail to ensure we get the message. Thank you, and we apologize for the inconvenience.


THOUGHTS ON LINUX

We are starting to see a mild interest in Linux as a platform for NPL.  Although an inquiry to the NPL List recently generated a lackluster response, we are continuing to monitor the potential of Linux.

At this time we have concerns relating to the fact that Linux is open source, which in fact Linux is very proud to be. Open source essentially means that the Linux source code is available to everyone who buys the retail version. The claim is that this allows many thousands of programmers to fix bugs and provide enhancements, so both get done more quickly than they would by SCO, HP, Sun, etc.

While open source has its benefits it also creates problems, two of which concern us:

1) Any time a program is fixed or enhanced, it is possible to break it. Without dwelling on the obvious, one of the reasons Niakwa's quality is so good is that we lock down the releases and then run a full suite of QA tests. If we change the code, we rerun the tests. While the process of correcting bugs and enhancements to Linux is straightforward (i.e. all are submitted through a central consortium before they are adopted in the general product) there are no guarantees that a system programmer at a customer site won't make a change that may adversely affect NPL, and subsequently your application.

While for the most part this is unlikely, the possibilities exist, thus creating a potential support burden for all of us.

2) Niakwa's product is secured, as you know. Many resellers count on us to provide security that is reliable and, well, secure. If a person can manipulate the operating system, then they can program responses to our security calls. Thus we cannot assure our security will reliably serve its purpose.

It would seem one solution would be to find a version of Linux that is not open source, or at least is not open source in the most crucial areas. Our research at spring Comdex last month did not find such a thing.

Another solution might be for Niakwa to distribute our own version of Linux that is not open source in areas we consider important.

Please, if you have an interest in Linux, and have opinions or ideas on how to deal with these concerns, let us know.

We will keep you informed of our progress with Linux.

 

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