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News briefs: Munich officials say ‘Windows out, Linux in’

Jun 21, 20044 mins
Cisco SystemsLinuxMalware

Also: Chambers open to Cisco-Nortel partnership; Cisco flaw could lead to DoS attack; IBM teams with MessageLabs for e-mail security; Congress approves spyware bill; and new InfiniBand group launches

  • The city of Munich made it official last week: It’s going with Linux to replace 14,000 Windows-based desktops. The city’s decision to consider Linux made headlines last year and forced an 11th-hour incentive-laden appeal from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to stick with Windows. The Munich City Council voted 50 to 29 for the switch to Linux and other open-source applications, such as browser and office productivity tools. The city did not provide details on the migration, which it says has a price tag of $42 million. IBM and Novell, which helped advise on the yearlong evaluation, are likely front-runners to supply the technology, observers say. Also last week, the city of Bergen, Norway, chose Novell’s Linux technology to help replace Windows and Unix platforms within its IT infrastructure. The city’s CIO, Janicke Runshaug Foss, says Linux will provide freedom of choice and major cost savings.

  • Cisco CEO John Chambers last week said he would welcome a partnership with telecom equipment maker Nortel. “I believe in strategic partnerships. I would love to have Nortel as a partner,” Chambers said. However, he downplayed the notion that Cisco might buy Nortel. “I don’t know how to do large acquisitions,” Chambers said, but added, “Never say never.” Chambers has said many times that partnerships tend to be less difficult and risky than acquisitions. William Owens, Nortel president and CEO, said he had not talked to Chambers about partnerships but Nortel would be open to discussions.

  • A flaw in Cisco routers and switches running IOS with Border Gateway Protocol enabled could be vulnerable to a denial-of-service attack. To exploit the vulnerability, an attacker would have to inject a malformed BGP packet that appears to be from a trusted peer, a scenario that limits the scope of the problem, according to Cisco. A free update is available here.

  • IBM is partnering with MessageLabs to provide a managed e-mail security service that filters messages for viruses, spam and inappropriate content before they reach a company’s network. The IBM offering, called E-mail Security Management Services, is based on an existing set of services from MessageLabs called MessageLabs Email Security System. IBM brings to the table its support infrastructure and ongoing input from its research unit for continued improvements to the service, as well as the ability to integrate this e-mail protection service into its other managed security services, the company says. Meanwhile, MessageLabs benefits from exposure for its service through IBM’s sales channels.

  • A U.S. House subcommittee has approved a spyware bill that would allow fines up to $3 million for collecting personal information, diverting browsers and delivering some pop-up advertisements to computer users without their consent. The Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act (SPY ACT), which bears little resemblance to the bill it replaced, also requires software that collects the personal information of computer users to notify the users of its installation, to get the users’ consent before installation and to provide users with easy uninstall options. The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection last week approved SPY ACT. The bill requires that computer users be notified and be allowed to give consent before software that collects and transmits personal information is installed on their computers.

  • Enterprise customers interested in high-speed, low-latency I/O switching fabric InfiniBand, but concerned about being locked into a vendor because of proprietary drivers needed to deploy the technology, should keep an eye on a new group working on making InfiniBand easier to use. The OpenIB Alliance launched last week with Dell, IBM, Sun and Intel heading a group of 13 systems, storage and InfiniBand vendors and high-performance computing users that are joining forces to create an open source software stack for deploying InfiniBand in Linux environments. The group says it will release its “software delivery schedule” in the third quarter and plans to make an open source stack available within a year. That means all Linux-based InfiniBand deployments ultimately will use the same software drivers embedded in the Linux operating system, streamlining the task of setting up InfiniBand clusters, members of the alliance say.