26th > April > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

Red Hat Piranha ‘backdoor’ password discovered

An undocumented backdoor password in the Red Hat Linux Piranha package containing Linux Virtual Server (LVS) software has been discovered by Allen Wilson of the X-Force department of security outfit Internet Security Systems. The backdoor password allows remote attackers to execute commands on a server, ISS says. If an affected version of Piranha is installed and the default backdoor password remains unchanged, any remote or local user may log in to the LVS Web interface. From there, LVS parameters can be changed and arbitrary commands can be executed with the same privilege as that of the Web server. The vulnerability is present even if the LVS service is not used, ISS warns. If the affected package is installed and the password has not been changed by the administrator from the pre-set login/pass combination "piranha" and "Q", the system is vulnerable. The current distribution of Red Hat Linux 6.2 is vulnerable. Earlier versions are not. Red Hat has provided an updated Piranha package, version 0.4.13-1, available here. Meanwhile, all the gruesome technical details of the ISS advisory are posted here. ®
Thomas C Greene, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Paul Allen nearly divested of M$ stock

Acting on a tip from one of our beloved readers, The Register took a peek at the recent securities trading history of Micro$oft Co-founder, Director and all around mysterious character Paul Allen. Allen, we confirmed, has unloaded roughly US $8 billion in company stock over the past twelve months, which leaves him holding a paltry 53 thousand shares, worth now a piddling $3.7 million due to recent unfavourable market forces. He appears not to have traded since early March, so the bulk of his roughly forty sales were in the very attractive range of $85--$95 per share, and typically in the range of 2--4 million each in volume. Apparently he needed a bit of pocket change. But we wonder why he's elected to divest so completely. Micro$oft now represents his smallest stake in any company by which he's listed as a principal. Surely it couldn't have anything to do with pessimism over the inevitable effects of numerous anti-trust remedies now being contemplated with devilish joy by the US Department of Justice. No, certainly not.... ®
Thomas C Greene, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Time doles out £40 million of free software to schools

UK PC builder Time Computers has agreed to hand out more than £40 million of software from its Free Software for Schools promotion. The IT giveaway, run with Time subsidiary supanet, generated over 35,000 orders for free software from more than 23,000 schools between September and March. So far the company has given away more than 2,000 PCs. Thirty-eight million tokens were collected – from a combination of retail outlets such as WH Smith and John Menzies, as well as from The Times newspaper. The computer kit was sent to a variety of educational establishments, including special schools for children with learning difficulties, schools within prisons, and hospitals.® Related stories Supanet pays you to surf Half of UK schools are software pirates It's Time to give away software
Linda Harrison, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Tiny revs up for flat-fee ISP launch

Tiny Online, the ISP and e-tailing arm of the PC manufacturer, has finally published the fees for its new unmetered Internet access service a month confirming it would be offering a flat-fee service. 24/7 unmetered Net access will set punters back £25.99 a month, while off-peak unmetered access will cost £6.99 a month. TinyConnect will be available from 9 May. Like other telephony models, Net users will have to switch their voice and Internet calls through a dialler box, which is provided free of charge. Subscribers to the £6.99 service will need to spend a minimum of £10 a month on voice calls although 24/7 users will be excused this condition. TinyConnect will be run by TeleCentric Solutions (TCS), which is jointly owned by Affinity Internet Holdings and PowerGen. Cable and Wireless will provide the telecommunications network. ® Related Story Tiny Online touts 24/7 Net for 'less than £30' per month
Tim Richardson, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Compaq outsells Dell by 1m units in Q1

Worldwide PC shipments topped 30 million units for the first quarter of 2000, according to a report by IDC. Volume showed 20 per cent year on year growth to 30.4 million units, fuelled by healthy consumer demand in markets in Asia, but represented an overall sequential decline of 9.3 per cent. The Asia Pacific and Japanese markets showed growth of 36 per cent and 35 per cent respectively. US sales totalled 11.6 million units on 17 per cent growth, IDC reported. According to rival research company Dataquest, worldwide PC shipments grew 15 per cent during the quarter to 29.9 million. Both agreed that Compaq was still hanging onto the biggest share of the world market. IDC found Compaq delivered almost four million PCs and held 13.1 per cent of the market, whereas Dataquest reported 3.8 million units or 12.5 per cent of the market. Dell came second with both research companies giving it around three million units and 10 per cent market share. It was followed by Hewlett Packard, with 2.5 million units and eight per cent, and IBM with 1.8 million or six per cent. In the US, Dell held onto the top position, with 1.9 million units or almost 17 per cent of the market, both IDC and Dataquest found. Compaq had 16.4 per cent, HP just over 12 per cent, Gateway nine per cent and, replacing IBM in the number five slot, eMachines with almost five per cent of the market. Both Dell and Compaq's US figures suffered from sluggish businesses PC sales. IBM's unit growth in the US was said to have been "severely impacted" by its withdrawal from retail as well as Y2K which cut demand for commercial desktops. In Europe, Internet demand and cheaper PCs continued to spur consumer sales. "The global consumer appetite for PCs helped offset a Y2K-induced slowdown in commercial market interest in PCs," said Bruce Stephen, IDC group vice president of Personal Systems research. "Looking ahead, IDC believes that commercial market demand has started to stabilise in most major regions of the world, and purchase patterns should return to more normal rates during the second half of the year." ® Related stories IDC adds VA Linux Systems to survey server elite Dell hits No 1 in global PC marketUnsaturated low fat diet for European PC vendors PC sales up 23 per cent last year despite Y2K</</p>
Linda Harrison, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Hell.com for sale

Domain name shoppers are to get the chance to buy one of the hottest URLs ever. hell.com is up for sale, and US domain name broker hitdomains.com expects to auction it off for no less than $8 million. "Considered by branding experts to be one of the most powerful and recognised words in the world, 'hell' is about to conjure a new meaning – 'money!'" screams the company's press release. "With built-in marketing slogans such as 'Go To HELL.com', the name can bring instant recognition to any Web site that acquires the URL." Hitdomains reckons that whoever buys the address will be able to build a whole business around it due to its recognised brand name. Despite having no content, hell.com already manages to pull in around 100,000 unique visitors per month. Hitdomains has a whole heap of other domains for sale on its site – including officialguidetosex.com, which has a minimum bid of $15,000, sexandcigars.com ($25,000), as well as the slightly tamer, but more costly, stockbrokers.com (minimum bid $9 million). The Florida-based company recently sold autos.com for $2.2 million. Last week the Roman Catholic Church slammed a Scottish auction site selling thepopesfuneral.com. ® Related stories Banks.com auction kicks off with £600K bid Big bucks URL is the business(.com) Scottish firm suffers eternal damnation for auction
Linda Harrison, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Compaq delivers bland financials

Although Wall Street professed itself satisfied by Compaq's financial results for its first quarter, with the firm's share price rising four bucks to close at $30.25, in truth there is little need for Houston to break out the Moet bottles. The firm said that it had delivered turnover of $9.51 billion for the quarter up until March 31st this year, a rise of one per cent quarter on quarter, year on year. Compaq CEO Michael Capellas said that he was generally satisfied with the quarter, and said that this time of the year was generally tough for the hardware giant. He said Compaq's turnover was affected by a slowdown caused by year 2000 bug anxieties, weak figures in Europe and the continuing struggle to rid itself of channel stock. Q is continuing to cut its expenses, Capellas said. Last week the firm announced that 450 jobs would go in its PC wing. Stronger parts of Compaq's performance included its consumer business and revenues from its Tandem Himalaya biz. And watch out Europe. Capellas said Compaq is taking aggressive steps "to re-ignite" growth in the region. Breaking its business out segment by segment, its enterprise and services division showed a four per cent drop to $4.7 billion, quarter on quarter, year on year. Demand for "industry standard" (x86 servers) particularly eight way Proliants, stayed strong. Alpha sales fell because customers are waiting for Wildfire in May and because of manufacturing changes in the US during the quarter. Compaq already has 120 orders for Wildfire systems. Storage sales appear to have been disappointing, if the phrase "mixed results" means what it usually does. Compaq's business PC division saw revenues fall by seven per cent to $2.9 billion year on year, and showed an operating loss of $19 million for the period, compared to a profit of $24 million in the same quarter last year. The consumer group posted an increase of 35 per cent, turning in revenues of $1.8 billion. Worldwide, Compaq turned in four per cent growth in the North American countries, 14 per cent in Asia Pacific, 21 per cent in Japan and nine per cent in Red China. (Q calls it Greater China). Capellas said that Compaq is Microsoft's premier Windows 2000 partner and that deals and partnerships will mean the firm will show further growth in Q2 and that growth will accelerate during the second half of this year. Now if only they would bring back the NT platform for the Alpha microprocessor... ®
Mike Magee, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

AMD unveils Corvette, plans 1.5GHz part

Thanks to AMD Zone for pointing us to the famous Akihabara Pricewatch pages, which have extensive coverage of the Wintel sponsored WinHEC 2000 show in New Orleans. Time to roll out our Lernhowtospell Japanese to English translator then... As well as pictures of the AMD Thunderbird and Spitefires, and Socket A of course, the page says that a CPU codenamed Corvette appears on the roadmap. It also demoed Thunderbird and Spitfire at WinHEC, the page says. AMD showed its 760 chipset running with DDR synchronous memory. Corvette, the page says, is a new codename for Mustang, AMD's mobile Athlon but the Akihabara page seems to suggest that this particular type of mobile Athlon may be aimed at the high end of the market. AMD will have a 1.5GHz processor in volume by January of next year, to compete with Intel's Willamette, the page says. ®
Mike Magee, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Intel takes next step to i840 heaven

The Carmel chipset, now known to aficionados (read geeks) as the i840, was supposed to be the Intel Rambus chipset that put the i820 in the shade. Alas, that was not to be, and soon enough it was discovered that there were minor errata (not bugs) that caused fluttering both in customer dovecots and in the board division of Intel as it realised the chipset division had, once more, not quite got it right. Now Intel has taken steps to address these problems and has just issued one of its famous product change notifications to alert the world+dog that it has fixed some of the latest problems in the i840. The document, PCN #964, introduces the MCH (memory controller hub) B2-stepping, which fixes a total of 15 errata in the i840. Customers must be ready to receive post conversion material (read: fixes) from August the 25th next. You can find the PDF in question here. ® See Also Leak! ServerWorks cornerstone of Intel server strategy Intel 840 chipset problem hits third parties Channel furious about Xeon support, i840 glitches Intel admits SDRAM as good as Rambus memory Three Intel mobos scrapped because of chipset probs
Mike Magee, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

MS opens free piracy hotline to squeal on rivals

Microsoft has started a free hotline for resellers to secretly squeal on suspected software pirates. The 0800 number has four full-time Microsoft lackeys beavering away at combating software fraud. All leads will be pumped into a central European database in the hope of cross referencing information to combat international organised crime. "If you want to report piracy, you want anonymity, and you can ring this number in confidence," said Julia Phillpot, Microsoft anti-piracy manager. Launched this month, the hotline has so far attracted a mixture of end-users - keen to check that goods they have bought are legal, and resellers - wishing to inform on suspected illegal goings-on at a competitor. "The idea is to provide a better service to customers and channel partners, and give a more structured approach to investigating and reporting piracy," said Phillpot. The Web is one of the fastest growing areas of software counterfeiting, according to Phillpot. "The Internet offers ease of distribution. But we are having a very high success rate in getting sites taken down. If we call the ISP and explain what is going on, they normally want to take the site down immediately." Microsoft is to send out its anti-piracy hotline number in 7,000 brochures to the channel, but has no definite plans for an advertising campaign. Phillpot remained cagey about the software giant's idea to harness British TV soap operas to put across the anti-piracy message, revealed here earlier this month. She said she had been "too busy doing other things" to develop the plan further. ® Suspected software crimes can be reported on 0800 013 2222. Related stories Microsoft takes UK TV soap offensive Fishy pirate gets caught in Net Microsoft piracy buster trashes software and reputation
Linda Harrison, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

IBM ThinkPads hidden under NDA kimono

Over to the Langham Hilton for an exciting briefing on the new ThinkPads IBM intros in the US next Monday. Whoops. It's under a non disclosure agreement, so we made our excuses after we'd eaten our continental breakfast and left. Still, nice to be in the Langham Hotel, near the BBC the scene of one of our more spectacular successes with Intel. When chief US spinmeister Howard High was covering Europe for Intel a while back, Intel had this so-called Green PC initiative, and at the same time delivered an annual report in which it was slagged off for polluting the groundwater. Sorry about the ThinkPad info... ®
Adamson Rust, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Elvis sees God thrash Pope

Larry Ellison is about to achieve his life's ambition – he's about to overtake Bill Gates as the world's richest man. With Microsoft's shares now around half their value of four weeks ago, Gates – once described as the 'PC Pope' by Ellison – has seen his personal worth drop from $90 billion to a piffling $49 billion. The Oracle boss, on the other hand, is now just a whisker behind, being valued at $48 billion thanks to his shares rising by well over 500 per cent. Thanks to his jet setting lifestyle, Larry is sometimes known as Elvis due to his propensity for popping up in upmarket holiday spots around the globe. Author Mike Wilson once penned the immortal line: "The difference betweenGod and Larry Ellison? God doesn't think he's Larry Ellison". While Lord Ellison of Barking will no doubt be over the moon at beating his hated rival to the richest man title, observers claim the Pope will be more sanguine: "He's been there, done that," said one. ® But Ellison's celebrations may be short lived. In an industry famous for taking pops at the successful, we could now see Oracle taking Microsoft's place as the company you love to hate. And maybe Bill will now have time to get a proper haircut. ®
Andrew Thomas, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Microsoft DoJ pantomime enters final scene

With the DoJ's anti-trust boys really having to give their final final proposal for the future of Microsoft by Friday, it's good to see the company's uniquely confident attitude remains unaltered. Following fairly heavy speculation that The Beast of Redmond is to be split up - thereby making it worthwhile for anyone else to produce office software or a competing operating system - Steven Ballmer, M$'s top dog, confidently informed employees that it was never going to happen. His email also said new stock options would be made available to cover the recent slump in the company's share price. The email, entitled "Bullish About the Future", was Microsoft at its best. "This company, which has done so many great things for consumers and for the American economy over the last 25 years, will not be broken up," Ballmer said. "No matter what the newspaper headlines say, absolutely nothing in the current case justifies breaking us up." While it seems unlikely that most people would agree with Steve on the justification issue, you have to admire his strength in the face of opposition. Cornered by the US government, IT press and just about every aware consumer, he must be feeling the heat. Much as it would pain competitors to admit it, they'd love a CEO with as much courage. They don't call him "Ball"mer for nothing - he must have trouble walking. Of course, none of this changes the fact that Microsoft has viciously, maliciously and, darn it, ingeniously tied up virtually all the fundamentals for running a computer in the modern world. Even the most anti-Microsoft individual will admit to grudging respect for the giant. Without its looming presence, it is arguable that the rest of the computing world would never have moved so swiftly to the creation of common standards. The question now though is: Will the DoJ show as much fortitude as Ballmer has when it makes its recommendations? Will it push us into a new age of computing by opening up those last few doors, or will it cower slightly and set the status quo for the next ten years? ®
Kieren McCarthy, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Oracle launches Japanese Linux venture

Oracle is to release its own Linux distribution aimed at the Japanese business computing market. And next month it will form a subsidiary to market and develop both the open source OS and services based around it. The Miracle Linux Corporation will begin operating in early June with 20 employees and Y620 million ($5.87 million) of Oracle money to play with, according to the Nikkei newswire. The company itself will be jointly owned by Oracle, NEC and TurboLinux, the last two each owning around 14 per cent of Miracle Linux. TurboLinux will also supply the core OS product, which Miracle Linux will extend to tie it more closely into Oracle's Oracle 8i RDBMS, which it will also sell and support. Miracle Linux will also offer training and consultancy services focusing on its Linux distribution and the database. Miracle Linux will also develop a version of its eponymous distro that will run on Intel's Itanium processor. NEC's part in the plan is to promote Miracle Linux by bundling its Linux release on its Express 8500 server line. It will also be providing system integration and services based on its hardware and Miracle Linux's software. Miracle Linux's goal is to build up sales of Y220 million ($2.09 million) during its first year of operation, rising to Y1.3 billion ($12.34 billion) by 2004. At that point the operation should move into the black. ®
Tony Smith, 26 Apr 2000
intel

Intel launches USB 2.0

Intel's Pat 'Kicking' Gelsinger, the company's desktop products group VP, will today unveil the long-awaited final spec for USB 2.0 at WinHEC. USB 2.0 takes the bus' data throughput up to and beyond IEEE 1394 standards. 1394 currently runs at 400Mbps - USB 2.0 will run at 480Mbps, forty times greater than USB 1.1's 12Mbps. USB 2.0 hubs will support version 1.1 peripherals, but not vice versa.
Tony Smith, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Is this CD the kidnappers' friend?

The man behind a CD-ROM containing the names, addresses and financial details of all UK company directors has been accused of putting people's lives at risk. All of the information contained on the UK-Info Power CD is already in the public domain, but the inclusion of a route-finder on the disk has prompted allegations of irresponsible behaviour. According to the Times, the Institute of Directors' head of policy, Ruth Lea, said: "Every anarchist group in the country will just have to buy this disk." Which could be good news for the company behind the £229.95 UK-Info Power disk – i-CD Publishing Alluding to concerns that the disk will become a powerful ally to kidnappers, Lea continued: "What are people with wives and children to do?" i-CD Publishing's MD, Alastair Crawford, defended the CD-ROM, saying it would not be enough on its own to provoke someone into seeking out and attacking company directors. The most it would, he claimed, would be to "save a criminal half an hour" when tracking down directors' details. Crawford has a point here – determined criminals will go about their unlawful business regardless of how hard or easy it may be. But he is kidding himself if hew thinks no opportunists will jump on UK-Info Power as a way of targeting and harassing directors. No, it won't be enough to turn Joe Public into Public Enemy No One, but there are more than enough nutters out there to cause a few problems. The Times also quotes civil rights organisation Liberty as saying: "The right to freedom of information should take precedence over individual liberty." Sure, but The Register says freedom without responsibility is akin to oppression. Crawford's defence of UK-Info Power continues: "For anyone who is bent on attacking directors getting the address is the least of their problems." Finding the fastest route to the director of your choice could be harder, which is just as well there's a route finder included. ®
Sean Fleming, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

BT rips open ADSL pricing kimono

BT has finally published the prices for its broadband Internet services. Consumer will pay £39.99 a month (inclusive of VAT) for the service plus a one-off installation fee of £150. However, if ordered before June 30 BT said it would waive the installation fee. Single business users will also pay £39.99 although this is exclusive of VAT. Multiple business users will have to cough up £99.99 per month (exclusive of VAT) with a £260 (exclusive of VAT) installation fee. The announcement was made by BTopenworld - BT's new Net division. Ben Andradi, coo at BTopenworld, said: "We aim to achieve UK leadership in the broadband Internet space through BTopenworld. "We have a new management team, the right skills, platforms, content relationships and aggressive marketing to enable us to succeed," he said. BT has also signed up a number of content partners. Users can preregister at Btopenworld.com. According to the blurb, "now, the wait is almost over..." They ain't wrong there. The Techie Bit Btopenworld will roll out the service in three phases starting this summer. Summer 2000 - Phase One: consumers will be offered 512Kbps (256Kbps upstream) USB Internet access to a consumer portal. Business users will be offered 512kbps single user (USB) and multi-user (Ethernet) access with a small business portal. Autumn 2000 - Phase Two: customers will also be offered higher speed (1 or 2Mbps Ethernet connections) access. Business users will also be offered a local area network (LAN) product and a range of e-commerce applications. A teleworker package will also be introduced. December 2000 - 2001 - Phase Three: The third phase of BTopenworld's deployment will offer all of the above services plus the Personal openworld Portal for all users. It will also include interactive e-commerce applications, content, communication and TV-based services. ® Related Stories BT is completely seaworthy BT McKinseyed in bid for world leadership
Tim Richardson, 26 Apr 2000
The Register breaking news

Intel plays for legal time with Via

Updated Chip giant Intel appears to have taken fresh legal action against chipset and CPU manufacturer Via. The latest action, which was filed in the US on the 13th April, was filed against Via US and Via Taiwan, and scant details are at present available about the nature of the latest suit. According to a Via representative, the action is not a fresh legal move, but an attempt by Intel to gain extra time in its continuing tussle. Intel was unable to clarify the position. Ten days ago we reported that Via's acquisition of S3 would not give it a let out over existing litigation with Intel over alleged patent infringements. Meanwhile Intel has also filed a trademark action against a company called Intelia Inc in the USA. This one is a little easier to fathom out -- the similarity between the two names may be the key to understanding it. That action was also filed on the 13th of April When we discover more details about the latest Intel litigation, we will update this story. ®
Mike Magee, 26 Apr 2000