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HELP WANTED -- Article Ideas

Send tech-support questions, answers and article ideas to The Answer Gang <linux-questions-only@ssc.com>. Other mail (including questions or comments about the Gazette itself) should go to <gazette@ssc.com>. All material sent to either of these addresses will be considered for publication in the next issue. Please send answers to the original querent too, so that s/he can get the answer without waiting for the next issue.

Unanswered questions might appear here. Questions with answers--or answers only--appear in The Answer Gang, 2-Cent Tips, or here, depending on their content. There is no guarantee that questions will ever be answered, especially if not related to Linux.

Before asking a question, please check the Linux Gazette FAQ to see if it has been answered there.

Email and News Access for Linux from a Server requireing NTCR authorization?

Tue, 13 Feb 2001 10:00:12 -0500
K.Woodward (kwoodwar from mindspring.com)


I have a problem trying to setup Linux to access the servers at the University of Phoenix. The servers (Microsoft IIS) require a "log on using Secure Password Authentication" under Microsoft Outlook Express. I understand that this requires a email and news reader to authenticate using the WindowsNT Challenge/Response (NTCR) protocol [a really bad use of the http protocol]. The school does have a website to get to the email and news groups but it is timed and is very particular and seems to like rejecting Netscape Navigator access. The UOP Tech group's pat answer is that they only support Outlook Express under Windows, I want a Linux answer.

Is there any program or daemon that I could run to allow me to authenticate using this protocol so I could use Linux based email and news readers? I have tried using pine, staroffice, and leafnode and several others which are common under KDE/RedHat 6.2.

K. Woodward

telecommunication in a hospital

Sat, 27 Jan 2001 22:11:51 +0600
Nandalal Gunaratne (nandalal from itmin.com)

Dear LG readers

I am a doctor working in a hospital in Sri Lanka. I am thinking of connecting several computers in the hospital eg: one in the ward with the operating theatre, the pathology laboratory etc. The cheapest wasy would be via an internal modem and the use of the intercom telephones which work via the telephone exchange in the hospital. Is there a way of email/ file transfer which would allow say the doctor in the ward to download the results from the biochemistry department? I have read about C-kermit and UUCP but they are too confucing for us mere doctors. I have used RedHat Linux, but am hoping to use Corel Linux and Star Office in the hospital as they are more user friendly. Is there a simple, preferably GUI based communication tool which can do the above? Can StarOffice do it? If one can see the other desktop and click and download the file or email say with "ward 29 results on 26 January 2001" after connecting up - that is a dream come true!

Dr Nandalal Gunaratne

Q: Initialising secondary video card under XFree86 4.0

Wed, 7 Feb 2001 01:23:55 +1100
Mark Tigwell (tigs from zip.com.au)

Hi there

I have two graphics cards in my machine:

1:0:0 AGP 3DFX Voodoo3 2000 16Mb 2:0:0 PCI 3DFX Voodoo3 2000 16Mb

I am running XFree 4.0 under kernel 2.2.17 with SuSE 7.0

The problem is that I cannot get X to run on the second graphics card, either in multihead or regular mode. My BIOS allows me to specify which card is initialised as primary (the PCI or AGP card) and, depending on which one I select, X will only run on that card. It runs perfectly on each respective card when it is primary. I am trying to do multihead, but I can't get the secondary card to work either way. It does initialise (ie the monitor receives a signal) when I try to start X on the secondary card, but the screen remains blank. I am forced to do a cold reboot and watch fsck go through its motions every time.

Any thoughts?

Mark Tigwell

Linux PPP route question

Wed, 21 Feb 2001 07:59:47 -0600
Brian Smith (bsmith3 from charter.net)

The following is a message I posted last night on redhat.networking.general, I thought I'd send it to you guys as well since you always seem to be able to provide good answers...

I'm trying to set up a demand-dialed PPP link to my employer's LAN. I've got it mostly working, except for one thing. I'd like to be able to just do 'ifup ppp0' (or have it done at boot) and then be able to bring up the link on demand. The problem is, I need to 'route add -net ppp0' so that traffic from my machine to and address on the work LAN brings up the link (DNS is not an issue, I'll be accessing the machines by numeric IP address). The route command has to be done after pppd has started and the ppp0 interface exists, but before the link is actually dialed. None of the 'ipup-post' processing helps me, because it doesn't get executed until after the link is dialed. It's sort of a chicken-and-egg problem, eh? If I do the ifup and then the route commands manually, everything works beautifully. I just need a way to automate it better.

Also, it would be nice to be able to make a few mods to my ipchains ruleset when the ppp0 interface comes up, but that's easier to work around because I can set an ipchains rule for an interface which isn't up yet.

If anyone has a nice elegant solution to this, please let me know. By elegant I mean better than throwing the route command in rc.local - that's going to cause problems if I ifdown and later ifup the interface, because it won't get executed again.

Incidentally, this is on RedHat 7.0 with all the latest updates (except kernel 2.2.17 - haven't gotten around to that yet). In addition to the ppp0 I have eth0 (home LAN) and eth1 (cablemodem internet, and the reason that pppd's 'defaultroute' option doesn't help me either).

Brian Smith

Linux-based companies

Thu, 15 Feb 2001 17:01:10 -0800
Trent Carlyle (trent from codehost.com)


I have been paying attention to your magazine and web site quite a bit in the past couple of months and have learned from and enjoyed the information. If you ever want to publish an article on companies that are running successfully on open-source and/or Linux we would embrace the opporuntity to be featured. We are a custom software development company who run all Linux work stations (including Marketing/Sales, Operations, Programmers, Art, Human Resources, etc). We are also dependent on Linux for our servers, network, etc. We have even gone as far as developing apps internally that have proven to be very useful.

Have you thought of doing a monthly profile (like a quarter page column) on companies that run mostly or all Linux products? You could just build a Q&A and companies could fill in the blanks. i.e. "What desktop programs do you use?" (or) "What are the biggest benefits/problems you've encountered?" -- Just an idea.

I look forward to hearing from you. Keep up the great work.

Trent M. Carlyle


cocky arent we?

Sat, 24 Feb 2001 20:07:54 -0000
Lee Berube (lberube from twcny.rr.com)

i just came across your website and was looking up bad clusters also.i've seen some of your replies to theses people and you seem pretty cocky. you sound like a total dick, like you dont have the time to just be nice and say geesh im sorry but you have to look elsewhere.

You've reached an entire group of people. It used to be one, renowned as an expert in Linux, and I know it will sound weird, but the "chip on the shoulder" you're complaining about is how he gained the renown.

It's our practice to be cocky and to give people useful answers, if they ask questions which aren't too vague. Often they need to know WHERE elsewhere, just "go away" would in fact, be rude.

The "Answer Gang" column has become a tradition in our magazine and we have written many times in the past about why we maintain the style. If you want either politically correct "cleaned up" speeches or formal listings of questions and answers, go to formal and commercial entities, or go look in the Linux Documentation Project HOWTOs (http://www.linuxdoc.org). But if you want to stomp into the nearest Techy Bar and see if the alpha geek has a real answer for your question, you've come to the right Answer Gang.

is it their fault that they use a search engine that brings up your webpage and hoping for help ---they get you (unfortunatly).

This project is part of the Linux Documentation Project as well, and translated into many languages. Therefore yes, it will be found in a lot of search engines. This isn't a bug -- it's a feature!

Maybe these people you are talking who are "hoping for help" will either

  1. use the Linux Gazette specific search engine at
    (pretty easy to get to really, just hit "search" off our home page) ...and look at all the other past articles in there (not all by the same fellow, either).
  2. Actually ask us a Linux question we can answer! You didn't!

LG is all volunteer work, though. If you think that's unfortunate that we hand out freebie answers with a little roughhousing in them -- your loss, dude, get a new 'tude...

dude...lighten up a bit will ya? it happens....

Let us know when you have a Linux question, Lee, maybe we'll be able to help. Meanwhile, have a nice day :)

-- Heather Stern

Reference to Progeny

Mon, 19 Feb 2001 12:27:43 -0800
Bruce Byfield (bbyfield from progeny.com)

In the latest issue of The Linux Gazette, the following appeared:

[Heather] Well, then, keep an eye on the Progeny project - Ian Murdoch himself and a handful of trusted friends, are working on putting together a new debian based distro which is really aimed at desktop users >more than the server and hardcore-linuxer crowd, yet is aware of the "standard" debian project enough to >allow a smooth transition.

[Bruce Byfield, Director of Marketing and Communications, Progeny Linux Systems]
I wanted to mention that appearances are deceiving. In many ways, Progeny Debian has taken on an unexpected life of its own, with many features for the desktop market. However, that's only what everyone is seeing right now.

In the long term, Progeny Debian is the foundation for Progeny's Linux NOW (Network of Workstations) project, and therefore aimed squarely at the server market.

Not that I'm complaining, you understand. Any coverage is good coverage, and all that. However, because Progeny Debian is the first Progeny project that will released, people are getting a distorted view of what the company is about, and we don't want anyone to feel that Progeny is misrepresenting itself.

So the "Linux NOW" will be a clustering project, while the present "Progeny Debian" is the side effect of work on a good installer system for the project overall? (just want to make sure that when I'm updating my view of it, I'm getting it right this time.)

Yes, you're basically right. That's not to say that desktop refinements won't be added, but Progeny plans to be more of a provider of services than a seller of software.

However, maybe I should add that, in the strictest sense, Linux NOW isn't a clustering project. Although it could loosely be called that, Progeny is avoiding the term to prevent misunderstandings (to say nothing of criticisms). Instead, it's being called a network of workstations or a networking computer solution. I suspect, though, that it would be a welcome edition to a clustering solution.

Thank you very much for correcting us in this regard. I do like what I am seeing and I suspect that when you roll out the big guns on the server issues that a lot of netadmins will also be very happy with it. -- Heather

Thank you!

[Mike] Bruce, our last announcement about Progeny was http://www.linuxgazette.com/issue57/lg_bytes57.html (search for "Progeny"). If you have any more material to add, send it to LG.

Classified Disk - Low-level Format

Thu, 15 Feb 2001 21:46:05 -0500
Mark Nielsen(nielsen from wwc.com)

Classified Disk - Low-level Format

Add my comment,

I was so impressed with that one line command at writing 7 times to the hard drive, I included it in my article (though I only discovered it after it got submitted to LG). I left it as an option for someone to uncomment the command.



Alternative to "software released on the basis..."

Thu, 15 Feb 2001 14:40:04 -0600
Dave(df from cameron.k12.wi.us)


In your answer in the latest Linux Gazette to the question concerning the HSP (et al) modems, you requested a new word/name: (Can someome out there please spin up a new buzzword for "software released on the basis that you get no tech support" so we can go back to using "unsupported" for meaning "doesn't work" ?)

I have two suggestions: On-your-own-ware or noware

Dave Forcey

Good Atomic Clock Source (Cheap Hardware)

Wed, 14 Feb 2001 20:46:28 -0600
Ross Jacobs(rosskj from rossandkelly.com)

Check out http://www.parallaxinc.com, they make microcontrollers and hobby kits for electronics. They offer a radio to serial device that receives atomic clock broadcasted updates via radio waves, and outputs data to the a serial port. It can also be polled.

Ross K. Jacobs

geforce card

Mon, 29 Jan 2001 22:28:10 +0100
Jorge Gimenez(jorge.gimenez from wanadoo.es)

Nvidia has released drivers for geforce 2 cards with opengl support. Visit his web. http://www.nvidia.com . I read on the documentation of that drivers that Xfree 4.0.2 has support for this card. I have a tnt2,the same drivers for geforce cards, working perfectly with nvidia drivers on a redhat 6.1 with Xfree 4.0.1. There is a mini howto called Nvidia-OpenGL howto that covers this stuff very well , I would recommend you to download it


Fw: Booting Problem after compiling kernel 2.4.0

Thu, 1 Feb 2001 14:14:22 +0530
santanu_jal2000 (santanu_jal2000 from yahoo.com)


What do I do ??

[Heather] Well, the startx text results from booting it under the other kernel, may give you an idea of some features to actually declare in your XF86Config file.

Look especially at the things that start with two dashes since those are things it decides on its own. If you succeed at declaring these in your config, the server should boot up the same way on 2.2.16 but the same features will change to being marked with two stars. Then you can try it under the new kernel and see if it straightens up and flies right.

I note that you may have a particularly old i810 server anyway, since XFCOM are the Xfree Compatible series, and according to http://www.xfree86.org the i810 is among their source tree. Defaulting to not building it, but it's in there :) So a smarter i810 server for 3.3.6 might be available from your distro vendor's updates area.

Xfree86 4 is reported to work with the i810's as well. The readme for its 810 support mentions that the Tyan Tomcat and some settop box (HappyPC) also work. That server includes the ability to declare a few features (such as the DAC) if they get misdetected or just missed. Switching from X 3.3.x to X 4 has been very happy for some, tweaky for others, so I have to leave that possibility up to you.

I figured out that I have to do some serious reading ( the kernel docs and the XFree86 docs , etc.) and then I will be more prepared to try out the tweakings you mentioned above ( specially the first suggestion ). Good thing I will learn a lot that way.

Last but not the least , I must say a big Thanks to You for carrying on the 'conversation' . I learnt a lot from you, specially how to go to the heart of the problem. Thanks again.

Here I dive into the Docs . . . .


Santanu Chatterjee

Re Spf for Linux

Sat, 17 Feb 2001 10:34:24 -0800
Mike Chard (mchard from uneclipse.com)

Hi Heather,

Just to let you know that Uneclipse Software Systems has released an SPF Editor for just $69.95 - http://www.uneclipse.com


Thank you

Tue, 30 Jan 2001 19:27:16 -0800
Gerard Berthet (gberthet from xmlnetworks.com)

Thank you for your site. I found what I needed, very easily, and quickly about my Linksys Ether16 LAN Card. The Linksys web site was useless in comparison.

Gerard Berthet


Wed, 7 Feb 2001 20:50:11 -0600
skimbrel(skimbrel from home.com)

More AOL Instant Messenger Spying

From Jon Sandler on Mon, 11 Oct 1999

it is very important to me as well that i spy on other people's instant messages - seeing messages from both the sender and the reciever. your help would be greatly appreciated. and im not too in tune with the technical stuff, so a simple way would be good. thank you very much.

You are also "not too in tune" with ethics. You're also not too bright, and you're lazy (since I'm sure you know something about the basics of capitalization, et al).

U R my hero!!! THIS GUY NEEDS A LIFE. Good work. Sam

RH 7.0 update problems

Sun, 4 Feb 2001 21:55:02 -0500
Bob Lee (general from gis.net)

Thank you for your quick response to my upgrade problems. After my two experiences with upgrades, your suggestion fills the bill on that situation. Don't upgrade, do a new installation. Especially with the hard drive resources and partitioning program available to work with.

Using Partition Magic for Linux, I created a fresh 10GB hard drive with anly unallocated space on it and used PM to copy the 6.1 installation to it and now have a 7.0 updrade on my other disk. Just as soon as I am happy with RH 7.0. I will run a complete new install on the 10gig disk.

The reason for the big disk was to allow me to experiment with different distributions and new kernels.

Your opinion is well valued and my experience bears out what you suggested.

Many thanks to you and the Answer Gang and the many hours of enjoyable reading and learning gained from the Linux Gazzette each month. It's nice to have people like you willing to share your knowledge and experience with us.

<Smile> Glad I could help, Bob. As far as I'm concerned, a well-documented story of things going wrong can be quite valuable; it may save someone else the trouble of trying the same route. Thanks for writing.

-- Ben Okopnik


Sun, 04 Feb 2001 01:30:53 +1000
Les Barron (les from spiderweb.com.au)

Why the big fuss ?? I downloaded the 2.4 kernel untarred it in /usr/src symlinked it to linux configured and compiled it & have been using it for some time with no apparent problems. I use SuSE 7.0 pro on a 433celeron. Must admit I have not tried it on my other machine (a 233 cyrix)with redhat caldera,windows & turbolinux installed.(My apologies I did upgrade modutils and several other utilities first) Cheers


I finally came up with a much clearer way of expressing it, as a thread on a similar vein came through the debian-laptops mailing list:

According to the fellow who berated The Answer Gang about this (suggesting NOT moving around the include link -- Thanks Michal!) ... as passed through my tiny little "not a kernel hacker" brain ... the idea is that glibc has a certain set of the headers which it sort of generically expects to use when compiling userland apps.

Whereas the one inside the real linux sources is desperately needed to be from the kernel sources, when compiling the kernel itself. (Duh :) )

The problem we keep running into is with apps that "cross the blood/brain barrier" ... pcmcia as a prime example ... it probably would greatly prefer the "real" includes. But, you can't just move them -- most userland apps prefer the fakes! Er... older versions. The versions that were there when glibc was itself built. They're not at all fake. :)

Worse, when we start hopping entire kernel versions, or if you are someone who is developing kernel modules yourself. Newer versions have a link in /lib/modules called 'build' that says where it got its sources from, so that something smart can be done, however, I have no idea if gcc does The Right Thing with that yet.

Until then, in the debian distribution at least, /usr/include/linux contains its own copy of headers for userland compiles. Their docs for the libc6 package explain clearly to use:

gcc -I/usr/src/linux-X.Y.Z/include ...

...if you really need the headers from a specific kernel.

All this doesn't really help a poor user decide, but I hope it makes a lot more sense to you folks now.

Anyone who works in this magic at a deeper level is certainly welcome to chime in and improve our view of Linux physics. Send that techy stuff to linux-questions-only@ssc.com so the whole Gang can see it.

-- Heather


Re: Earthquake - SSC is fine.

Wed, 28 Feb 2001 16:03:54 -0800
Don Marti (LJ Technical Editor)

The SSC people in Seattle survive, just a few broken windows.

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Published in issue 64 of Linux Gazette March 2001
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