A fistful of notable happenings

This time we have a collection of the good, the bad and the ugly; a handful of issues which won’t each support a column but which are more than worthy of note.


World Linux Day. Yes, there is such a thing, it’s this year, and its roots are totally Canadian.

The National Installfest, co-ordinated by the Canadian Linux Users’ Exchange (CLUE) and run by user groups from Victoria to Halifax last September, was a huge success. This success attracted the interest of groups in other countries; as a result, this Sept. 25 is slated to be the day the penguin is heard ’round the world.

More details on this event, as well as information of how to get involved, is still being put together, and will soon be available at www.installfest.net. Special mention is necessary for Matthew Rice and Chris Halsall of CLUE for putting this together. About five countries are participating so far; expect more to join.


The open source community will have the chance to endure three major U.S. Linux trade shows in three months — or at least, attempts at trade shows.

Linux Expo, in North Carolina in May, will be back for its fifth year, expanded from a cozy academic-style conference (held last year at Duke University) to a full-flown trade show at the Raleigh Convention Center.

But this year it has competition. First, there’s the first-ever LinuxWorldExpo, early March in San Jose, a move by the IDG News Service organization to get a piece of the Linux pie. Not to be outdone, the ZD folk appear to have rush-released a Linux track for COMDEX Spring, set a month later in Chicago.

The problem is most Linux vendors are start-ups, where even the largest players are small fish in the computing world, and convention budgets aren’t high.

Most Linux users don’t have enough travel money in their budgets to send them to both coasts and the middle of the U.S. And we’re not even counting small but very successful Linux presences at other trade shows in Las Vegas, Toronto, Atlanta and Vancouver.

A shake-out is inevitable, and vendors who pick the wrong show stand to lose badly. We already have a first casualty — a New York based show called “The Bazaar,” due next month, appears to have attracted little attention and seems likely to die on the vine. Who’s next?


By now, many of you know about Bill C-55, a proposal that would govern advertising in order to protect the Canadian magazine industry. The last issue of ComputerWorld Canada contained an eloquent and impassioned editorial on the issue.

I have no intention to debate the merits of C-55 itself; however, I am concerned about the media campaign in its support, recently launched by Canadian magazine publishers.

A couple of common Linux/Unix tools, normally unavailable to Windows users, reveal some fascinating behind-the-scenes details of this national publicity campaign.

The “whois” command reveals that billc55.com was registered with the U.S. company, Network Solutions, for a fee paid in U.S. dollars. Furthermore, the “traceroute” command reveals that this domain’s flag-waving Web site is hosted by the U.S.-owned UUNET ISP.

So here we have a group of loud and enthusiastic advocates, encouraging us to oppose actions which could lead to U.S. domination of Canadian media.

They contend that saving Canadian companies is more important than the greater efficiencies afforded to American firms. Yet these patriots apparently aren’t concerned that their electronic choices contribute to the domination by Americans of the Canadian Internet infrastructure.

Just as Canada has publishers struggling to maintain independence in the face of more moneyed and more-efficient U.S. competition, so too it has ISPs fighting the same struggle. And getting a .ca domain, instead of a .com, would support the Canadian Internet infrastructure rather than the American one.

I’m not arguing that UUNET is a bad ISP or that a U.S. domain isn’t desirable. But I am calling into question the hypocrisy and narrow-mindedness of our print magazine industry, which apparently believes that advocacy of Canadian interests ends when you stop killing trees.

Leibovitch (evan@starnix.com) is a partner in Starnix Ltd., a VAR and consulting firm specializing in Linux and Unix in Brampton, Ont. He is also a director of the Canadian Linux Users’ Exchange.