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Technology / AI and automation


By Rachel Chalmers

The K Desktop Environment (KDE), the shining hope for a Mac-like graphical user interface (GUI) on Linux, celebrated its 1.1 release on February 6 1999. In the past, the KDE project had attracted criticism from open source purists for its reliance on a proprietary toolkit, Qt. A rival GUI project, the GNU Network Object Model Environment (GNOME), was born, and the GNOME developers swore to use no proprietary software at all. Last November however, Qt’s owner Troll Tech AS published the source code to Qt under a license approved by Linus Torvalds himself (CI No 3,543). There could no longer be any objection to KDE on the grounds that is was not truly open source. One GNOME developer abandoned the project, and many feared that GNOME would be shut down altogether. But the project survived on its merits. Though months behind KDE in development terms, GNOME was potentially far more innovative, especially in that it planned to integrate all applications through a single CORBA bus. On February 9, the GNOME project released version 0.99.7, affectionately if weirdly named Skillful and Conspicuous Cow. There’s a new script for reporting bugs, better documentation, better support of MIME and PPP and improved portability. If both projects continue, Linux users of the future may be in the happy position of having their choice of GUI. Meanwhile, traditional OEMs are defecting to Linux. Longtime OS/2 hardware and software reseller, Indelible Blue Inc, has introduced Atlas, a workstation pre-loaded with Linux. Atlas comes with one of several Intel processors, Red Hat Linux 5.2, 128MB DRAM, 40-speed CD-ROM and sound and video cards, and is priced at $1300. For its part, Compaq Corp has put up a web page to promote its own Linux-ready hardware. The company is especially keen to draw attention to its Alpha microprocessor, which back in the days of an independent DEC was the first non- Intel platform to get a Linux port of its own.

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