Linux developer switches to Microsoft’s Windows Security Team

January 23, 2008

According to Microsoft, the company was able to win over the brains behind the AppArmor Linux security system. Crispin Cowan now belongs to the core of the Windows Security Team that developed User Account Control (UAC) and integrity levels. What motivated Cowan to switch from open source to closed source is still unknown. Microsoft’s Michael Howard is exuberant about his intelligent, open and “brutally pragmatic” colleague in his Microsoft blog.

In October of last year, Novell parted with Cowan and five other AppArmor developers, who had been brought on board in mid-2005 following the company’s acquisition of Immunix, which included AppArmor. AppArmor safeguards access by processes to system objects such as files and network ports by adding a control layer to the Linux kernel. You can specify via capabilities whether a program is allowed to open network sockets. This is intended to limit the effects of a breach in the system.

Novell repeatedly attempted to integrate app armor into the official Linux kernel maintained by Linus Torvalds, but came up against resistance in the developer community. The community’s reservations were primarily aimed at the process of identifying files by their names. Currently, Suse, Ubuntu, and Mandriva all use AppArmor. Red Hat uses SELinux.

After his departure, Crispin Cowan had planned to continue work on AppArmor with some of his colleagues – including Steve Beattie and Dominic Reynolds, whom Novell had also sacked – in a new consulting firm. It is still unclear whether Cowan plans to continue developing AppArmor parallel to his duties at Microsoft or he will discontinue work on it, or whether one of the big distributors will take over further development. Heise Security has yet to receive a response to an inquiry made of Cowan.

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Sears.com to offer $199 Linux PCs

January 23, 2008

Linspire, Inc., developers of community desktop Linux operating systems, and Mirus Innovations, a North American PC manufacturer, have announced the availability of a $199 Linux PC that will be sold through Sears.com.

Available now, the $199 Linux PC (after a $100 mail-in rebate) features a 1.6GHz Intel Celeron processor, 1GB memory, 80GB hard drive, Freespire 2.0 and free CNR software delivery service.

“It is breaking price point barriers,” said Larry Kettler, president and CEO of Linspire.”It was extremely important [for us] to show how far the [Linux] OS has come and how useful the OS is for average users.”

Other features of the Linux PC include a card reader, a modem, CD-RW, keyboard, speakers and mouse. As well, it offers out-of-the-box file type and multimedia support, such as MP3, Windows Media, Real Networks, Java, Flash, ATI, nVidia and WiFi.

Freespire 2.0 also adds legally licensed proprietary drivers, codecs and applications in its core distribution, to provide a better overall user experience. Freespire is a community-influenced, Ubuntu-based Linux distribution that is designed to be powerful enough for sophisticated Linux users and developers, yet easy enough for someone new to Linux.

CNR.com is a free one-click software delivery service requiring no registration to use. CNR.com users can search for applications by title, popularity, user rating, category and function. An open source client for each supported distribution is then used to add the one-click installation as well as auto-updating functionality.


Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Wins SearchEnterpriseLinux.com ‘Product of the Year’

January 23, 2008

Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 has been selected as Gold medalist winner in the SearchEnterpriseLinux.com 2007 ‘Products of the Year’ awards, in the Linux Server Distributions category. This annual award is presented by the editors of TechTarget’s Data Center Media Group.

The ‘Products of the Year’ awards were judged by the SearchEnterpriseLinux.com editorial staff, in conjunction with a team of users, industry experts, analysts and consultants. Judging was based on six criteria, including innovation, performance, ease of integration into existing environments, ease of use and manageability, functionality and value. Judges characterized Red Hat Enterprise Linux as “a solid choice for mainstream computing,” and “a full-featured release that delivers on a range of roadmap commitments, especially for CPU support, drivers, virtualization and package updates and upgrades.”

With solutions that span from the desktop to the data center, Red Hat Enterprise Linux offers compelling levels of performance, security and robustness, and is certified by leading enterprise hardware and software vendors. Enterprise Linux couples the innovation of open source and the stability of a true enterprise-class platform.

“Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 provides our customers with industry-leading virtualization capabilities, an impressive deployment ecosystem and world-record setting performance,” said Scott Crenshaw, vice president, Enterprise Linux Business at Red Hat. “To be honored as one of SearchEnterpriseLinux’s ‘Products of the Year’ is a testament to the validity of Red Hat solutions.”

For more information about Red Hat, visit http://www.redhat.com. For more news, more often, visit http://www.press.redhat.com.


Federal Employment Office switches to Linux

January 23, 2008

Shortly after switching all of its 13,000 public internet information workstations from Windows NT to Linux, the Federal Employment Office (BA) issued an interim report. According to an announcement by Klaus Vitt, CIO for the BA, the switch to open source software will, “allow the BA to react with flexibility to new technological developments. In the future, a broad range of software will be available to the BA that it can use to access various internet media, and to ensure optimal internet communication for its clients.”

The BA is using the OpenSuse 10.1 Remastered distribution and the latest version of the Firefox web browser. The software was installed on the server as a repository and the clients can access it via PXE Boot. The BA told heise online that the switch, concluded at the end of last year, lasted some nine months including planning and did not involve any external service providers – it carried no additional costs.

The BA explained that the migration was necessary because, “The previous combination of Windows NT and Internet Explorer could no longer keep pace with technological developments in how current media content is displayed and was not up to the demands of modern hardware.” In making the switch, the decision for Linux was based on cost and security considerations. On the one hand, implementing Linux carried no licencing costs, on the other hand migrating the clients enabled standardised automation and maintenance procedures, since the BA servers also run Linux. Another plus are the flexible configuration possibilities with Linux.

Because the self-service information workstations are freely accessible, the security requirements are especially high. In that respect, it is an added benefit that only a small number of viruses affect Linux systems. All unnecessary software was removed from computers at the internet centres. In addition, the BA has implemented its own security solutions on the systems.