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Virtual servers virtually take over the world

Server virtualisation was bigger than big this week - or at any rate there were those readying for bigness.

Citrix splashed out half a billion to acquire virtualisation firm XenSource, which it plans to team with Redmond's upcoming virtual server code-named Viridian.

This combo will be unleashed against market leader VMware, whose Tuesday IPO wasn't so much a case of floating as one of going ballistic.

And what's good for VMware is good for SteelEye. The virtualisation cluster specialist outfit snared a LinuxWorld gong for its VMware-targeted LifeKeeper Protection Suite.

On a similar note, Overstock boss Patrick Byrne extolled the virtues of data backup powerhouse Teradata in a moving tribute to its 2005 rescue of his operation from an overhasty Oracle rollout.

Intel's virtual security

Intel was also using virtualisation tech - in its case to develop security "appliances" which would run on chips, below the level of the operating system. Under the hood, as it were - which is appropriate as the name of the Intel programme is Project Hood.

The processor colossus also unveiled new four-core server kit, in a blow to rival AMD.

But the upstart chipsters fired back, punting its "Light Weight Profiling" spec. AMD reckons this could make it easier to write multi-threaded parallel code in future, and so get the best out of the new generation of hardware.

Cash for kids to study science

That might take a while, though - and by then there may not be any developers or tech people worth hiring, according to UK fatcat club the CBI.

The bosses' collective want government incentives to get kids to study science and maths in school. Teach the little blighters to read and write first, we say - otherwise they won't even be able to use a word processor, let alone write code.

Star Office goes free, Apple gets upgrade

Speaking of which, there were changes among the productivity suites: Apple finally cut off life support for its AppleWorks bundleware office suite, shifting fully to iWork 08.

Meanwhile, Google and Sun joined forces to offer full bells-and-whistles StarOffice as part of the free-to-download Google Pack software portfolio. OpenOffice was already free, of course, but the full-on StarOffice has clipart, extra fonts, and tools for migration from MS Office.

Spam stress worsens

Free tools might lift productivity, but, as ever, there's bad news along with the good. It seems that massive amounts of corporate email is stressing people out and wasting their time.

Even more than ever, a lot of the inbox dross will be spam, generated by new Trojans which can set up webmail accounts on their own, regardless of Captcha anti-bot safeguards.

The actual payload of the spam, according to an F-Secure analysis, is more and more likely to be an FDF (Forms Data Format) file, rather than PDF or an image.

Still, not to worry. A lot of people may not even be reading their emails because they're too busy watching telly on their computers or - at Telstra, anyway - indulging in bathtime bonkathons.

Kumar finally starts his porridge

Some former IT types, though, will only be able to watch TV in communal rooms. Disgraced former CA chieftain Sanjay Kumar tucked into a 12 year supply of porridge in the federal slammer.

Kumar would have been doing even more bird if not for a deal struck last year with prosecutors in which he copped to the infamous, $2.2bn 35 day month accounting fraud.

Land Registry insists it's fraud free

There's no fraud at the UK Land Registry, though, if you believe the management. They'd no doubt contend they're already in full compliance with the new official guidelines for organisations holding personally-linked information.

But anti-ID card group NO2ID disagrees, claiming that the Land Registry offers information online for a small fee which could be used to steal homeowners' identities.

ID theft hits the Old Bill

The boom in ID fraud is bad news for the police. Like Sanjay Kumar, they already have quite enough on their plates as it is; and now it appears the forensic information they use to deal with ID theft may itself have been stolen.

British plods were left scratching their heads over the matter of a stolen server containing forensic data used in police investigations. The machine was lifted from the secret offices of FTS, provider of phone usage data to cops, prosecutors and HM Customs.

Still, at least the FTS headquarters was more secure than that of eccentric Siberian UFO lover Yuri Lavbin, who claimed that a three ton meterorite had been stolen from his.

Ubuntu loses servers

Rather more conventional online server burglaries were thought to have taken place at Ubuntu, where five of eight community-hosted production machines had to be shut down.

The servers had been compromised to such an extent that they were becoming a source of attacks against other systems. It was reported that, among other problems, security patches had not been carried out.

Bumper Patch Tuesday

That's probably going to be the case for a lot of Microsoft computers too, after another bumper Patch Tuesday in which Redmond pumped out no less than 14 fixes for Internet Explorer, Excel, and Windows components - nine of which were "critical". If past form is anything to go by, the patches will take time to spread through the installed base.

Open sauces embrace MS

Problems for both sides in the open source versus proprietary war, then; and not just security patches. But it seemed that some large operations were drifting more into the Redmond camp, with the Beeb taking flak for the new iPlayer's reliance on Windows and its DRM - even as MySQL appeared to shift away from the open software model, too.

The Beeb and MySQL may have been part of a trend, as the mood at LinuxWorld seemed to indicate a new willingness on the part of the OSS biz community to cooperate with Microsoft in a mixed-source environment.

Novell chief Ron Hovsepian - whose company, according to the judge, definitely does own Unix after all - was of that opinion, anyway.

But Microsoft certainly didn't get things all its own way, with news breaking that ATI Vista drivers contain a vuln which can get malware into the very kernel itself. Security issues just aren't going away for anyone, no matter how IT professionals of every stripe try to eliminate them.

Germany evicts hackers

The great, uninformed mass of users out there have no idea what the answer is, that's for sure. In Germany, the remorselessly efficient squareheads reckon harsher laws against hackers are the way ahead - perhaps guaranteeing they will have few competent white hats to turn to in future.

Biz-chummy British Tories, on the other hand, say they would bin the data protection regs altogether.

Most company board members, according to a survey, couldn't care less about IT security.

HP inks good quarter

World stock markets might be in meltdown, but it's not worrying HP. The company saw revenue grow 16 per cent to $25bn and profits grew by almost a third to $1.8bn for the third quarter.

Chief exec Mark Hurd said it was the firm's best quarter since the bubble days of 2000. Asked if recent economic problems would hurt HP, he said he had seen no evidence of a knock-on effect.

Sun wins IBM for server help

Sun has finally found a top rank player to back its server operating system Solaris X86. IBM will offer the software on its own servers. The two companies have previously been bitter rivals with IBM punting AIX - it's own unix operating system. Quite what happens to AIX now is not clear.

Other news

Also this week: BBC and Microsoft's shenanigans on iPlayer, the UK's highest paid IT post, and Happy Birthday to the CD - it's 25 years old today. ®

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