Jumping the gun on AOL's Linux OS

Summary:A Web site that posted an early version of AOL's operating system for Net appliances claims users are looking for security holes.

Technology Web site techpages.com obtained an early copy of America Online Inc.'s Linux-based operating system for Internet appliances earlier this week. Code-named Gamera, the software is being decompiled by users who have downloaded the software and, according to site, "would have the potential to give someone unlimited access to AOL's internal areas like the password database."

AOL officials acknowledged Friday that the software is an early version that will appear in appliances as soon as this fall.

According to Rich D'Amato, spokesman for AOL (aol), the version of the software on the site is pre-alpha, more than two versions prior to the final release that consumers will see in appliances.

"This is a non-event," D'Amato went on to say. "We make our software publicly available to employees and developers through the development process, and by the end of the development we've had hundreds that have already seen the software."

Company officials stressed that security is a top priority at AOL, which does not rely on client-side software for security. Instead, multiple levels of security on the host server side ensure the privacy of information about its members.

Manufacturers who will support the AOL platform in appliances were equally unconcerned with the early public posting of the OS.

The operating system will be the platform that Gateway Inc. will use to jump into the Internet appliance market. Gateway (gtw) plans to target households with PCs by releasing three devices -- a Web tablet, terminal and a counter top -- between now and the beginning of next year.

"If they are not concerned, we're not concerned," said Greg Lund, communications manager of consumer products at Gateway.

Lund confirmed that AOL had informed Gateway about the early posting but assured the computer maker that it posed no threat to the final product.

D'Amato said that AOL was still trying to figure out how the software made it onto techpages.com.

Topics: Operating Systems, Linux, PCs, Privacy, Security, Servers, Software

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