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More 2¢ Tips!

Send Linux Tips and Tricks to

mouse wheel and netscape

Mon, 03 Apr 2000 14:03:18 -0500
From: Greg Walker <>

This configuration may not be immediately obvious to the unseasoned Linux user, therefore, I thought it would make a good two cent tip. Furthermore, the information does not seem readily available (at least I had trouble finding it).

To enable the mouse wheel, place the following line in XF86Config under the pointer section

ZAxisMapping 4 5

This will allow emacs, xterm, ... to receive mouse wheel events. For netscape, also add the following lines to .Xdefaults (be sure there is only a newline after the "\" that ends a line.

Netscape*globalTranslations: #override \
   <Btn5Up>: LineDown() \n\
   <Btn4Up>:   LineUp() \n

2cent tip

Thu, 13 Apr 2000 01:17:07 +0200
From: David Pravec <>

Hello, For those who are changing HDDs very often, here is small ugly but working utility which I wrote. It detects filesystem types of all accessible partitions and checks/mounts them in folders named after device (hda7,hdb1,hdb3,sd1,...).

So you will never have to write sequences of fdisk,fsck,mount,df...


Traceroute Resources

Thu, 20 Apr 2000 22:00:27 +0300
From: Rafael Stekolshchik <>


You maybe interested in checking the site "Tracerote Lists by States. Backbone Maps List"

You can find there many links to the traceroute resources sorted by the next items:

Other thing is the List of Backbone Maps, sorted by Geographical Location, also some other info about backbones.

Tips in the following section are answers to questions printed in the Mail Bag column of previous issues.

ANSWER: About Linux

Tue, 4 Apr 2000 10:42:08 +0300 (EET DST)
From: Marius ANDREIANA <>


I would really like to see case studies on switching to Linux form other platforms.

Recently there was an article in LG, about a big polish hotel which did that and pretty happy about it. Check it out.

We currently use Windows NT Terminal Server Edition. How hard would it be to go to Linux?

You'll have to learn a little. On NT you click several times, use some wizards, reboot from time to time and everyhitng it's fine. If it isn't, reinstall and it will be. Using Linux means you also know what you are doing. You'll click more times, even use the keyboard :), ask on irc/mail list/news about something which you can't figure out etc. But you'll have a strong, performant, secure platform.

- We have two TSE servers with approximately 30 users each logged in on average. In total, we have about 130 users but it is a manufacturing plant and many people share terminals.

sounds to me like a perfect case for Linux :)

- We use Citrix Metaframe, for Load Balancing and failover. Is there a product for Linux that offers this option?

Ah ! The Windows world, with lots of _great_ products, which improve performance of your system, maintain it etc etc.

You don't need these on Linux, because it does it by itself. With under 200 users, I don't think you'll need more than one server. Sure, that server won't be a Pentium PC. I'm not into hardware, can't say too much here, but there are many options.

- Dependability. I have to reboot my TSE servers once a week. Last week a new HP printer driver caused about 40 blue screens of death before we figured out what was going on.

I've heard that on Windows 2000 presentation by Bill Gates, he outlined that there were machines running for even 90 days without a reset. WOW ! ( not to mention the _new_ micro$oft _invention_, the symbolic link )

Will Linux be better?

You bet. See more articles about introduction to Linux etc. Once you start using it, you'll love it. Try and see ;)

Recently we installed ( at ) php, postgresql, configured the web server (apache) without rebooting and remotely. And no wizards, just the shell, from an old university text terminal. It took about 15 minutes untill I had it running. I'd say that's cool, isn't it ?

About the uptime, here's the output of the uptime command on a sever here in ROmania :

avva:~$ uptime
 10:22am up 435 days, 17:27, 7 users, load average: 1.16, 1.10, 1.02

That ain't much, check for better results

- Office productivity software. If we are used to MS Office, what will it be like going to something like star-office?

Better :) I use it from time to time to make some charts, short paper works etc. If you're really into publishing, LaTeX is the answer. And don't forget about the free great database engine, PostgreSQL. (you don't keep data in an Excel sheet, don't you ?) How about a web/desktop interface for it ? No problem !

- Anti-virus programs? Is there an antivirus program to scan mail stores (sendmail POP server)?

If you use Linux and no windows at all, you won't need that. Besides being harder to infect a Linux system because of file perimisions and ownership, there's a problem with anti-viruses. The viruses must appear first, and _later_ the anti-viruses. I can't afford to wait that delta t, both at home and at work, so I use Tripwire, an 'utility' which scans your filesystem and based on the rules you define, makes a database of their CRCs or something like that. If a file get's modified you are notified acording to the rules. There's a free version of it and a better commercial one. (see their website for more info). I use it as an antivirus, but it's for network security.

-Security. How good is Linux at keeping users honest? With TSE you can delete or overwrite files in the system directories as a user. Can't delete a system file?

Linux is Unix-like, which was designed from ground up for network, multi-user, multitasking etc. So it's extremly good at it. On my PC at home, I made more accounts for my relatives (they didn't know how to use a computer initially), and I can happily leave them alone. Besides the graphical interface being in my native language (and I'm proud I contribute to that) in the worst case they can delete their personal files. They don't have the rights for the rest :), not even each other's. You can also make groups for different departments. Each user will have his/her own account, which could be part of one/more departments.

As I said, once you get to know Linux better, you'll delete even your windows backups :) You can always find help in the Linux community (but make sure you Read Those Fine Manuals first), or even pay for commercial support.

See ya around !


Your mouse has moved. In order for the change to take effect,
Windows must be restarted. Reboot now ? [OK]

ANSWER: Re: Pentium-II Xeon and calculation speed

Sat, 8 Apr 2000 19:00:52 -0600 (MDT)
From: Gordon Haverland <>

Another place to look for speed improvements is custom math libraries. A lot of FORTRAN is concerned with linear algebra, and for speeding up things like LAPACK the place to start is probably getting some kind of BLAS. There does exist a couple of had tuned BLAS for some Intel-386 family processors running Linux, but what looks like the best place to get going is something called ATLAS. This is a package which tries to calculate an optimal BLAS Level 1, 2 and 3 library for your machine. It comes pretty close to hand tuned BLAS in assembler, and can work from C or FORTRAN calling.


ANSWER: Memory greater than 64MB

Mon, 10 Apr 2000 17:43:53 -0500
From: bjones <>

I used the "free" command on both of my computers, and found that they were using only 64 MB of memory in Linux. I had to use the "append" addition in LILO to get Linux to see all of it. It appears to be a bios problem, and I like this simple solution. As an aside, I never noticed a shortage of available memory problem before the fix. Linux worked quite well with 64 MB and a 64 MB swap partition. The swap partition was never used, to my knowledge, but the manuals threatened death, doom, and destruction if I omitted it.

A quick note: The memory used by the on-board video with the AMD K6-2 processor cannot be used by Linux. I have 160 MB of memory on that computer. Attempting to use all of it caused a kernel panic at boot time. I use 8 MB for graphics. Changing the append statement to use 152 MB worked. I am sure happy about saving that boot floppy.

Your Editor wrote:

I used to have to use the 'append "mem=8M"' statement, but now I don't have to. Which kernel are you using? It may have been something that changed in the 2.2 kernels.

William replied:

Two computers in use: (1) 300 MHz K6-2, 160MB memory, S.u.S.E. 6.1, upgraded to 6.3 with a giveaway CD-ROM, 1999 Bios that switches to an Adaptec 1520 Bios during boot. (2) 100MHZ Pentium, 96 MB memory, Sam's version of Red Hat 6.0, 1996 Bios that switches to an Adaptec 2940 bios during boot.

I like my computers, and am not concerned about needing an extra tweak to reach all the memory. Both machines are Lilo dual boot to Linux and M$. They are (ab)used frequently, inside and out. Additional operating systems that are now on a bookshelf include OS/2, MS-DOS since 1.0, and Coherent 2 through 4. I will probably upgrade Someday Soon, and look forward to having "free" see all of my memory without an "append" line in Lilo.

Your patient Editor asked:

Which kernel is it though? "uname -a" will tell you.

William responded:

1. K62, 2.2.13 #1 kernel ( remember, this updates S.u.S.E. 6.1, with a lower 2.2 kernel)

2. 586, 2.2.5-13 kernel

Rick Smith <> confessed:


After chastising Linux Gazette about not needing to put an: append "mem=xxM" statement in lilo.conf, it had to happen! I have been using socket seven motherboards for several years and all currently have 128meg. They all run various versions of Linux: Redhat 5.2, Mandrake 6.1 and Suse 6.3. I have not had to put an append statement in lilo.conf or use a mem= at the Lilo prompt to get all 128meg recognized.

That is until now! I just bought a FIC SD-11 motherboard, Athlon 700 and a new case. I took all the components: memory, drives, nic, video card, from one of my socket seven systems and installed them in my new Athlon system. (Please note: same drive with Suse 6.3 already installed.) Everything seem fine until I ran: free and discovered I only had 64meg of memory! So now, I had to put an append statement in lilo.conf to get all 128meg recognized. It's definitely a "bios thing".

BTW: When I upgrade a motherboard, I NEVER need to reinstall Linux but almost always need to reinstall Win 9x.

ANSWER: Re: Free ISPs for Linux

Thu, 13 Apr 2000 11:53:31 -0400
From: John Ruschmeyer <>

This isn't exactly a burning question but I'd be interested in knowing if anyone in the Gazette readership knows of a free ISP that supports Linux. All of the ones I've checked out so far require Windows and/or Internet Explorer.

Check out FreeWWWeb ( They are the only free ISP I'm aware of which uses a stock PPP dialup and has no specific browser requirement.

Although they have a link for downloading software, you want the link for signing up if you already have a browser.

Paul Garvey <> writes:

Try the following link:

ANSWER: Re: Palm databases and TSVs

Tue, 25 Apr 2000 12:14:38 -0600 (MDT)
From: Michael J. Hammel <>

Thus spoke Nick Bailey <>:

I have a question about connectivity with/via Linux. I need to pull a load of stuff of the Psion, and this is done by getting the files converted to tab-separated values by some utilities I've got. I have read and (I think) understood how to access a palm database from a program running on it, but there's not a lot of stuff on how to get a file full of TSVs onto the Palm. I've read the connectivity howto, and I also understand how to upload a palm database, but its the format conversion between plain text and palm database which looks hard to me. There's no obvious tool to do it, and I can't see how in the docs or this book I bought. Maybe it will become obvious when I unpack the dev tools?

Nah, this is a traditional DB/Spreadsheet conversion issue. You need to go from TSV's to CSV's (comma seperated values). The pilot-link software can upload some items as long as they are in CSV's. Getting from TSV's to CSV's is the hard part. If you're moderately good at regular expression handling, you could probably whip up a perl script to do it. The CSV's have commas between fields and any fields that have embedded commas are enclosed in double quotes. I think you can actually get away with using double quotes around all fields, but I'm not sure about that. I only did enough work with them to get xnotes working properly (and I use the term "properly" very loosely here).

I'm intending to use gcc to make port over a psion app, Vorg (this page disappears soon when I change ISP). I'm also wanting to put a CD database on the Palm Pilot which has a strange and complex structure, so I'll be writing a application to support that. I've already bagged the gcc port and XCoPilot; I was wondering what else you would recommend?

To be honest, I don't write apps for the Pilot. It was something I wanted to do, but there just wasn't enough time in the day to get seriously involved in it. One has to pick certain specialties in todays world - mine turned out to be graphics. Ah well. Maybe someday.

Thanks a lot for your help, however short. Even "look at the xnotesplus source here" would be a help.

Ick - the xnotes source probably wouldn't help much. It's just an ugly wrapper around pilot-link tools (yep, a bunch of execv's and the like). But I think if you can write your parser to go from TSV's to CSV's you'll be on your way.

ANSWER: Re: help setting up pilot-link

Tue, 25 Apr 2000 12:24:00 -0600 (MDT)
From: Michael J. Hammel <>

Thus spoke Jon D. Slater <>

I've successfully downloaded and install pilot-link-0.9.0-8. I didn't find much documentation. I'm having trouble communicating w/ my palm. I have both a serial cradle and a USB cradle, and I can't get either one to work. I'm using RedHat 6.1 on a P-II/333 machine. Do you know of a good resource for connecting to my PC?

There is a fair amount online. I know I wrote an article for Linux Journal a year or two back about how to connect use the pilot-link software with your Pilot's serial cradle. Search the Linux Journal site ( - I know it's online there somewhere. I think they had another article on the same subject earlier this year or maybe late last year.

I can't speak for the USB cradle, since I've never tried one of those, but the serial cable is pretty straight forward. First make sure you know which serial port you're connecting to. Then set a couple of environment variables from the command line:

% export PILOTPORT=/dev/ttyS0
% export PILOTRATEW600

The first one tells the pilot-link software what serial port to use. The second tells it what speed to transfer data at. I think you can set this to a higher baud rate. I just happen to use this one because I know it works for me.

Now you can just run the pilot link commands:

% pilot-xfer -b /tmp/pilot-backup

That would backup your pilot to a directory called "/tmp/pilot-backup". I can't remember if it will create the directory for you, so you're better off making the directory yourself before hand.

ANSWER: Other markup languages (troff)

Wed, 26 Apr 2000 22:57:31 +1000 (EST)
From: Murray Adelman <> Thanks Matej. Here are two troff sites. The first is where to get the original Bell documents. The second is a new one and I haven't looked into it much. You might also want to look in on the newsgroups comp.text and gnu.groff.bug . in which troff problems are discussed. The second is devoted to problems with groff; but a lot of the discussion applies to any *roff.

ANSWER: KPPP: Users required to enter root-password?

Fri, 28 Apr 2000 21:44:20 +1000
From: "Steve & Dee McInerney" <>
I have just installed version 6.1 and set up my modem to dial out to my ISP. However, when I log on as a user and press KDE>Internet>kppp a pop-up box opens up and wants me to enter the root-password! This does not seem right. is there a way to avoid having to enter the root pass word when logged on as a non-root user?
The way I've solved this one was to modify the /etc/pam.d/kppp file to include the line at the beginning of the file:
auth       sufficient   /lib/security/

This page written and maintained by the Editor of the Linux Gazette. Copyright © 2000,
Published in Issue 53 of Linux Gazette, May 2000
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