Also: Linux vendors to rally behind desktop standard; Solarflare\/Level 5 merger could yield first 10GBase-T server adapter; Cisco sets up R&D lab at Hanoi university; major banking sites insecure, researcher warnsSprint Nextel last week announced that it is buying UbiquiTel for $1.3 billion. Sprint Nextel picks up 603,000 customers in nine states with the acquisition, which is pending shareholder approval. UbiquiTel is the fifth affiliate Sprint Nextel has acquired. The company was part of a group of affiliates in a legal dispute with Sprint Nextel over how it would be treated postmerger. In its deal with UbiquiTel, that legal dispute has been set aside. Sprint also has bought US Unwired for $1.3 billion and Alamosa Holdings for $4.3 billion. UbiquiTel offers Sprint Nextel wireless services in California, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The company had $422.7 million in revenue year-end 2005.More than a dozen technology companies, including IBM, Red Hat and Novell, plan to support a new integrated server and desktop Linux standard to be unveiled at this week's Linux Desktop Summit by the Free Standards Group. The FSG is a nonprofit organization that has worked for years on many open standards, including a server specification called the Linux Standard Base. The group announced plans in October to work on a desktop standard, called the Linux Standard Base Desktop Project. Those two Linux standards have been integrated into a new Version 3.1 of the LSB, which is set to be released next week. A number of Linux providers, including Red Hat, Novell, the Ubuntu Linux project and Linspire, are expected to certify their products as compliant to the new LSB standard, according to the FSG.Solarflare Communications and Level 5 Networks - two privately held Ethernet component start-ups - announced a merger last week that sets the stage for lower-cost 10G Ethernet server adapters based on common network cabling. Solarflare makes chips for 10G Ethernet switches and network interface cards based on unshielded twisted pair wiring, while Level 5 makes copper\/fiber Gigabit and fiber-only 10G Ethernet server NICs with protocol offloading and acceleration features. The combined company, worth more than $50 million, is keeping the Solarflare name. Before the merger, Solarflare and Level 5 had raised $78 million and $39 million in venture capital, respectively. Solarflare investors include Intel and Oak Investment Partners, which also is an investor in Level 5, as is IDG Ventures. (IDG is the parent company of IDG Ventures and Network World.) With the IEEE's 10GBase-T standard expected to be ratified in June, users can expect to see 10GBase-T products later this year.Cisco said last week it has teamed with Hanoi University of Technology to open an R&D lab in Vietnam. The Networking R&D Lab is backed by Cisco's University Research Program and will be run by HUT's Bach Khoa Networking Academy, a training center for network managers also established by Cisco. The lab's goal is to further collaboration among researchers at HUT and other universities and research organizations, Cisco said. Cisco's University Research Program will fund research at the lab by soliciting research proposals that are subjected to a peer review. The company will provide research grants for those proposals that are approved through this process. While the R&D lab will give Vietnamese researchers more exposure and give them access to more-advanced technology, Cisco also stands to benefit. Technology developed by the lab may find its way into Cisco products, the company said.Online bank customers may want to pay a little more attention to their browsers the next time they log on, because many of the most popular banking sites in the United States may be placing their customers at risk to online thieves, a security researcher warned last week. At issue are the user logon areas that can be found on banking sites, which ask users to submit their user ID and password information. Although these forms may be encrypted, they do not use authentication technology to prove they are genuine, says Johannes Ullrich, chief research officer at the SANS Institute. A more secure approach would be to have users to log in on a Secure-HTTP Web page. HTTPS pages use the SSL protocol, which not only encrypts the information on the page but also provides digital certificates to give assurance that the Web site in question is genuine. "If the login form is not HTTPS, you don't know if it's the real thing," Ullrich said.