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Comments on: Play with the lovely netcat

Fri, 11 Jan 2002 19:11:53 +0800
zhaoway (zw from debian.org)

I've forwarded these comments about my Jan article in Linux Gazette: Play with the lovely netcat. Could you post it in your Mailbag? Thanks!


The purpose of yes

Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2002 16:05:19 -0700 (MST)
From: Bruno Melli <bruno from fc.hp.com>

Hi zhaoway,

I was enjoying your column in the latest Linux Gazette and came upon your description of /usr/bin/yes. I'm by no mean a Unix historian, but from what I understand the yes command had a very basic purpose:

The original rm command didn't have a -f option. So if you did rm -r /some/dir (or rm * where the current dir had lots of files) and if the permissions weren't set right you ended up having to type in a bunch of 'y' because rm asked you if you wanted to overwrite the permission.

Try it:

touch /tmp/haha
chmod 000 /tmp/haha
rm /tmp/haha

Imagine how annoying that becomes if you tried to rm hundreds of files at once.

The solution, if you didn't have access to the rm source, (or took the basic philosophy of Unix to the extreme):

yes | rm -r


Author of Netcat

Date: Wed, 2 Jan 2002 16:21:27 -0800
From: "Golden_Eternity" <bhodi_jabir from yahoo.com>

In your article "Play with the Lovely Netcat: Reinvent /usr/bin/yes" you comment on the anonymity of the author of Netcat.

I could be wrong, but I'm fairly certain that the author is Hobbit of the l0pht (currently @stake). There's a Win32 version by Chris Wysopal, as well.


LG #74 Mailbag: Desktop support

We got two messages on this topic.

pls pass this onto Dennis Field - his email doesn't work

Date: Fri, 28 Dec 2001 20:23:50 +0000
Luke Worthy (lukew from linuxmail.org)

re: Winning the Battle for the Desktop

Dude - quit you're Linux laptop whining...heh - jk ;)


and btw: try Mandrake, it has excellent PnP - they at least have a chat-style site for support, and it's all pretty good - just make sure you're winmodem is supported:


That's usually the most important thing.


Regarding all these comments about desktop support ---

Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2002 02:54:19 -0800
Iron (LG Editor)

There are two major classes of desktop: home and office. The former is novices and hobbyists (who help the novices). The latter has help desks.

Linux's economics have little chance of winning over novice desktops. That's because the cost of tech support for the few is borne by everyone who buys the software. Thus, a $50 package can afford to bear a 15 minute tech support phone call, and still turn a profit.

Actually, they cannot. The retailer and distributor will take 20-50% off the top. That leaves $25. Even with low-paid support staff, a 15-minute call can't cost less than $5 unless it's a simple answer (in which case the call would have taken one minute) and all the infrastructure costs to main the help desk and its resources are externalized as overhead. If they sell one copy, they would not have enough profit to take the call, unless the company was tiny and had a tiny customer base (in which case the customer-service staff or other staff would double as tech-support staff, so they would have to be employed anyway).

If they sell a hundred copies (or whatever the number is), they can take that 15-minute call. If the person calls back, they will have lost all of their profit on those hundred copies. If another of those hundred customers also calls in, the company will lose money.

That's why unlimited free tech support has disappeared, why limited free tech support has long been in danger, and why so many companies have put their knowledge bases online and run product newsgroups. It's much cheaper to have support staff monitor a newsgroup two hours a day than to wait by the phone, in terms of the number of customers that will be helped during that time, because others with the same question (or who may have the same question in the future), will see the answer. Actually, that's how The Answer Gang works too....

There are exceptions. The author of MetaKit (http://http://www.equi4.com/metakit/index.html), a non-SQL database server, offered unlimited free technical support, although I assume it was e-mail support rather than phone support. He did it because he wanted to hear how clients were using the product and what kinds of problems they encountered: he considered that his payment because it helped him improve the product. I'm not sure whether he still offers this--the web page now points users with questions to a mailing list. But there's obviously an upper limit on the number of customers you can offer "free unlimited support" to.

Linux is complex enough that the price really needs to be higher to support all the included software.

John Kawakami (johnk from woodstock.com)

True, although this is more a responsibility of the distributions that market to newbies than a responsibility of the Linux community as a whole.

On the other hand, Linux could do okay in the corporate desktop, where in-house helpdesks keep people away from the "free" tech support you get from the vendors. (It's not free if you're paying someone to wait on tech support.) The simpler Linux apps are easier to "fix" when errant users make mistakes, and with VNC, the service can be done remotely. Plus, overall stability pays off with fewer internal support staff.

---- John Kawakami

If the in-house help desks know Linux. Often, the only people who know Linux are the IT staff who run the servers. -- Iron

Good attitude!

Tue, 1 Jan 2002 14:50:04 -0500
mike (mike from toadwart.darktech.org)
linux-questions-only (linux-questions-only@ssc.com)

Regarding: LG 74, 2c Tips #26

I really like the attitude expressed by the whole answer gang, and a subtle rtfm after the question is answered is a good thing, I think. Before the answer it's a provocation, afterwards it becomes good advice. Happy New Year,

Mike List

Mountpoint permissions

Thu, 03 Jan 2002 21:42:34 -0500
Rick Holbert (holbert.13 from osu.edu)

Use chown, chgrp and chmod to change the owner, group and permissions on the mount point.

Err, no. The querent actually stated that he tried those; I'm willing to believe him (the same situation obtains when you mount a VFAT partition; the owner/perms of the mount point are irrelevant.) I don't have a Samba setup at hand right now, and it's been a while since I had to do one, but I'm pretty certain that Mike Martin's suggestion - setting the "uid/gid" parameters in the conffile - is the right thing to do. -- Ben

Sorry / Saludos

Tue, 8 Jan 2002 08:44:56 +0100
Andres Legarra (alegarra from ikt.es)


Me he confundido al pinchar el mensaje que queria responder. Sorry, I mispelled when I picked the message to reply (This awful M$ Outllok Express...) By the way, I found some things on Linux Gazette very useful.

Usted escribe un buen español!!

Andres Legarra Albizu

attn: Ben Okopnik et al

Fri, 11 Jan 2002 22:33:00 -0800 (PST)
Mather Cotton (mathercotton from yahoo.com)


That url saved my ass. Thank you so much!


Tux' Gender

We got two messages on this topic.

re: Lady Penguins

Date: Wed, 02 Jan 2002 04:50:22 -0500
Rachel Rawlings (rrawlingsw from nyc.rr.com)

That might refer to Linus' original comment that penguins are happy because they have just stuffed themselves full of herring or have been hanging out with lady penguins. We only /know/ that Tux is stuffed full of herring, but we can assume Tux hangs out with lady penguins. -- Heather

Which actually doesn't get say definitively whether Tux is male. Tux could hang out with lady penguins cf. Marlena Dietrich, or be a high-class drag king. ;>

However, speaking as a dyke with a largish stuffed animal collection (one of whom is a female Peter Rabbit named Katja) my Tux is male. Other users' Tuxen may vary according to the needs of the user, much like their kernel configurations.

Interesting. I wonder if Eric Raymond's enhanced kernel configurator will have a question for which sex your kernel should be built as. -- Mike

All the Girls like him

Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2002 11:26:17 +0100
patrick.op.de.beeck (patrick.op.de.beeck from belgacom.be)

But, we couldn't publish his very cute note because it was marked confidential. Sorry folks! -- Heather

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Published in issue 75 of Linux Gazette February 2002
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