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Windows 8 Linux woes, Red Hat's big Q2: News in brief

Nick Martin

Will Windows 8 be a Linux killer?
An expected feature in the upcoming Windows 8 operating system has some Linux gurus worried. A secure boot will prevent any executable from loading unless it is signed by a Microsoft key. So, according to Red Hat engineer Matthew Garrett, an unsigned executable, such as Linux, would be blocked. This is a serious concern, since many Linux users are now running the OS on machines that originally came preloaded with an earlier version of Windows. In his blog, Garrett says that an obvious solution would be to provide signed copies of Linux, but he sees problems with that approach.

“Firstly, we'd need a non-GPL bootloader. Grub 2 is released under the GPLv3, which explicitly requires that we provide the signing keys. Grub is under GPLv2 which lacks the explicit requirement for keys, but it could be argued that the requirement for the scripts used to control compilation includes that. It's a grey area, and exploiting it would be a pretty good show of bad faith,” Garrett wrote on his blog. “Secondly, in the near future the design of the kernel will mean that the kernel itself is part of the bootloader. This means that kernels will also have to be signed. Making it impossible for users or developers to build their own kernels is not practical. Finally, if we self-sign, it's still necessary to get our keys included by ever OEM.”

It has yet to be seen whether Microsoft will provide users with a way to disable this feature. Microsoft has not publicized a specific release date for Windows 8, but it should start hitting shelves sometime in 2012.

Red Hat poised to become the first billion dollar Linux company
News was good for Red Hat Inc., when it announced its second quarter earnings at the end of August. Red Hat reported total revenue of $281.3 million, for the quarter. That’s an increase of 28% from the same quarter a year ago. Subscription revenue was also up, totaling $238.3 million for the quarter–a 28% increase year-over-year.

"The combination of

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strong sales execution and customer demand led to second quarter revenue that was above our guidance and represented our fourth straight quarter of accelerating revenue growth," Red Hat president and CEO Jim Whitehurst said in a press release. “We continued to win and strengthen relationships with enterprise customers who partner with Red Hat to reduce costs while modernizing their IT infrastructure to enable applications to run on bare metal, virtualization and in the cloud.”

The earnings are a sign that Red Hat is continuing to grow and expand its customer base. It’s also a big step toward an important milestone.

 "Based on the strong first half results, we believe Red Hat remains well positioned to finish fiscal 2012 as the first billion dollar open source software vendor,” Whitehurst said.

Linus’s day off
When Linus Torvalds speaks, Linux gurus listen. And, when he takes a personal vacation, they wait anxiously for him to return. It seems this time the release of the Linux 3.1 kernel is being delayed because–of all the possible reasons–it interferes with Torvalds’s October vacation.

“Not only were there some patches under discussion, it is becoming clear that I might as well not release the final 3.1 until after my upcoming vacation early October – otherwise the next merge window would just be total chaos. A merge window with kernel.org being off just really wouldn't work, and doing a release only to then have some chaotic merge window followed by travel seems crazy,” Torvalds said in a recent blog post.

Even the father of Linux needs a break sometimes.


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