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More 2¢ Tips!

Send Linux Tips and Tricks to gazette@linuxgazette.net

Getting s-video to work on Win2k. Tip: working with tech support.

Mon, 28 May 2001 11:33:29 -0400
Qustion From: Jonathan Van Luik
Tip From: Ben Okopnik (The Answer Gang)

I am trying to help out my friend use his Inspiron 3800. He wants to display what is on his laptop onto the television to watch his dvd movies. However, now that he has win2k on the laptop he cannot seem to get the fn+f5 button function to work. This should be very simple. Connect the s-video to the t.v., and then push the button. But it isn't working, and I cannot get Dell help since it is not my laptop.

Ben sent him a cheerfully silly note expressing that this is not the right place for this question. See the Greeting From Heather Stern in this month's TAG for more about that ;) -- Heather

Just as a possibly helpful aside, I've spoken to Dell tech support 20 times or more, never as an owner. I always start out the conversation with "Hi, this is Ben Okopnik, and I'm the tech working on Mr. X's machine." As long as you have the serial numbers, etc. that they're asking for, there shouldn't be a problem; ask to speak to a supervisor if there is one. There's absolutely no reason for them to deny you help, especially if your friend is there with you.

Need to contact a hacker

Thu, 7 Jun 2001 09:01:30 -0700
Question From: Kane Felix
Tip From: Dan Wilder (The Answer Gang)

On Thu, Jun 07, 2001 at 08:39:49AM -0000, Kane Felix wrote:

I have been attempting to contact any hackers in the Tampabay, Orlando, FL area. I have a project that needs some expert input, however, I have been unsuccessful thus far. Is there a mailing list, or e-mail address listing for this area I may locate? If so, please help me to locate it, or offer any advice possible.

Depends on which common meaning of the term "hacker" you intend. For "expert code mechanic," try


("Groups of Linux Users Everywhere") for a Linux user group in your area.

Do you need to restrict yourself to your geographic area? Linux itself is written by many people scattered all over the world. The Internet provides a substitute for physical proximity. While a little long in the tooth, the internet newsgroups still provide forums around which many efforts coalesce. Check


For mailing lists or other forums related to the subject matter you're interested in, again check Google. A suitable search will reveal various forums. Jump in, participate, you're quite likely to find people who can assist you.

If your project is open source, consider registering it on SourceForge,


which provides network CVS access, forums, and other services organized around particular projects.

-- Dan Wilder

How do I create a new driver disk for RH7.1 network

Tue, 22 May 2001 15:15:21 -0700
Question From: Rick Lin
Tip From: Breen Mullins (The Answer Gang)

Hi there, I am trying to do an upgrade on a working RH6.2 system, trying to upgrade to RH7.1 by using the netboot.img (Install via FTP/HTTP/NFS), when I get to the question "do you have a driver disk" I insert the driver disk, but the drivers listed do not have the 3com 3c509 nic card listed they all seem to be PCI nic cards.

How can I create a new driver disk for the 3c509 ISA card?

Hi Rick --

See the README file from the RedHat CD. It points you to an additional drivers.img file that you use to make another floppy. I'd guess that the 3C509 driver is there.

HTH --


Maximum Username Limits in /etc/passwd

Tue, 05 Jun 2001 12:07:20 -0700
Question From: José Antonio Pérez Hernández
Tip From: Jim Dennis (The Answer Gang)


I'd like to know how long is the account field in the /etc/passwd file and if it can be modified: I'm trying to install a system that will serve users distinguished with their registration code (14 chars or more) instead of their usual user name.

Any tip is welcome. TIA.

Jose Antonio.

Under any reasonably recent Linux distribution (any glibc based one) you can have usernames of up to 31 characters. I think you're still required to have an initial alphabetic and I'd be very dubious of any effort to use any characters other than alphanumerics and maybe underscores.

However, I think the software that you're talking about is bizarre in this requirement --- and I suspect that it's a severely broken model that would lead UNIX software to impose constraints on usernames beyond those implicit in the standard libraries.

BTW: Limitations on username lengths and similar issues are purely a library and userspace issue. The kernel has no notion of usernames. UID limits are primarily a kernel issue; although the libraries naturally must implement to the kernel's requirements. Linux kernels prior to 2.4 used a 16-bit UID (limits us to 65,536 distinct users). In 2.4 this has been changed to a 32-bit value allowing us to use upto 4-billion UIDs. Although its a rare system that needs to provide access to more than 64K users --- there are fairly common administrative requirements that UIDs be unique throughout the life of a company or organization -- that they never be re-used or that they be retained for seven years or whatever.

I realize that UID limits weren't part of your question; but they're likely to be of interest to other readers, especially others who are come across this in the search engines.

-- Jim Dennis


Tue, 5 Jun 2001 17:01:15 -0400 (EDT)
toby cabot (toby from caboteria.org)


I enjoy your column and invariably learn something from reading it, but this time I can answer a question of yours!

In your answer to the "LINUX FOR THE PRODUCTION ENVIROMENT" question in the June issue you asked what sql-ledger is. It's an accounting package written in perl. It uses a relational database back-end (postgres, maybe others) and the UI is cgi-scripts. It's pretty good; I used it last year when I was consulting to cut and track some invoices. I'm not an accountant but it seemed to work just fine for me, and it wasn't that hard to figure out.


Regards, Toby Cabot

MySQL Tips and Tricks - finding Linux Magazine

Wed, 6 Jun 2001 09:32:04 -0000
Böšvar Björgvinsson (bodvar from atlanta.is)

For the English version og Linux Magazin(e): http://www.linux-magazine.co.uk This was the only version I had seen until I came across this posting of Linux being a German Mag.



Want to remove linux completly - GRUB still present

11 Jun 2001 10:13:01 +0200
Question From: Chandina rodrigo
Tip From: Huibert Alblas (The Answer Gang)

HI guys.. I formatted my machine and got rid of windows98 but when i boot up i get to the command grub> i'm a new user with some undestanding of linux and windws. i found this posted i tried this peice of code

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=512 count=1

and it said Error: unrecognised command

guys i need to install windows again for some project work so could u kindly tell me what i should type in the grub> so that i can do the normal fdisk with a bootable floppy of win98/95


This should be no problem,

this GRUB thing is the bootmanager installed by your linux distro, grub is not linux, so it can not regonise the dd command. Since you allready got rid of Linux :-( the only thinbg left is to remove the bootmanager. The dd command would be the right one if you were still using Linux.

Now, for the solution:

Hope I could help,


lost linux password

Mon, 11 Jun 2001 12:01:15 -0700
Question From: Selim Javed
Tip From: Mike Orr (The Answer Gang)

dear sir

my linux passs forget

i'm reboot & booting single

bash command not access

pls help me

What is the exact error message you're seeing?

What happens if you type this at the Lilo prompt?

Lilo:  linux init=/bin/sh

Re:prob in lilo booting

30 May 2001 10:41:25 +0200
Question From: saravanan_n
Tip From: Huibert Alblas (The Answer Gang)

Dear sir,

I successfully installed windows 2000 and linux,but i need

dual booting facility,i have 20 gb seagate hardisk ,i partitioned my hardisk as 5 gb for c: 10 gb for d: and for linux the rest of the space i use,but while i overwrite the first sector,but this lilo partition is not happening,it shows ur partion limit exceeds 1024 cylinders,so please give assistance to do the same.

with regards saravanan

I hope I understand correctly that you managed to install both W2K and some Linux distro. but get into problems dualbooting with Lilo.....

If you have an 'older' version of a linux distro, it probably hasnt got over the '1024 cylinder problem' yet.

I hope you have a bootfloppy ready and working. Then the only thing you have to do is:

remove old Lilo

goto http://freshmeat.net/projects/lilo

Download source, install, be happy

or ask follow up question right here....

the new versions of lilo have no problems on new PC's but as you are running W2K this should be no problem...

Hope I could help..


I need an answer from you....

Mon, 4 Jun 2001 22:35:28 -0700
Question From: James G
Tip From: Don Marti (The Answer Gang)

I am wondering if there is a way using CGI/Perl or C to create a program that learns and mimics the packets sent by programs like realplayer etc, and then be able to modify the packets so that information like destination, who sent it etc. I have read a lot on packet swtiching, bridge proxies etc and I have no idea on what to do.....

The first thing you want to learn is a packet sniffer, such as ethereal: http://www.ethereal.com

or tcpdump:

That should give you some idea of what the proprietary application is sending over the wire. Next, you'll want to experiment with mimicking it. You can get the information you need to do this from the excellent "Unix Network Programming" volume 1, by W. Richard Stevens. (It's C-centric, but you can apply the ideas to other programming languages too.)


-- Don Marti

Re: central logging and pipping to postgresql db

Tue, 5 Jun 2001 19:02:16 -0700
Question From: control
Tip From: Don Marti (The Answer Gang)

not only do i want to have a central logserver, i also want to find a way to log these events to a postgresql database table--this includes and is not limited to only "secure","messages" files but all syslogd events. what should i do?

syslogd supports writing to a named pipe. See man syslog.conf. So, you could write a script to read from the named pipe and do inserts into the database.

If something bad happens to the database, you'll still want regular logs to fall back on, so you should log the important stuff to files too.

-- Don Marti

Re: catch stdin

Thu, 7 Jun 2001 09:21:08 -0700
Question From: sami
Tip From: Mike Orr (The Answer Gang)

On Thu, Jun 07, 2001 at 06:59:12PM +0500, sami ullah jan wrote: i need to do something like this:

telnet "host"
'catch' stdin
enter username
'catch' stdin
enter passwd

how do i go about 'catching' the stdin?

It sounds like you want a script to automatically log into one place. There are a few possibilities:

1) The 'expect' program allows a script to wait for certain characters from the host (e.g., "ogin:" or "ssword:") and then send the specified text. That's usually used for programs that want the entire session under program control. Whether you can use 'expect' to log in and then switch to interactive mode, I don't know.

2) If you use ssh instead of telnet, you can set up your account on 'host' so that it will allow you to log into it without having to type a password. See "man ssh".

-- Mike Orr

hi, thanx for the quick reply before. u guys are doig a great job.

QS. how do u go about writing on the soundcard? what do u need to know? i presume its not as simple as writing to a terminal device.

thanx, sami.

Completely wiping the MBR using DOS debug

Sat, 9 Jun 2001 15:36:11 +0100 (BST)
Chandima rodrigó (sri_prince007 from yahoo.com)

hey guys.... i go it!!! I'm in love with linux!! i found the code on site.. sorry for the bother... this part of code did the trick!! yep it was ben who had given the link thanx fellow!! made my day!!

regard. rodrigo!!

Boot with a DOS floppy that has "debug" on it; run "debug". At the '-' prompt, "block-fill" a 512-byte chunk of memory with zeroes:

f 9000:0 200 0

Start assembly mode with the 'a' command, and enter the following code:

mov dx,9000
mov es,dx
xor bx,bx
mov cx,0001
mov dx,0080
mov ax,0301
int 13
int 20

Press <Enter> to exit assembly mode, take a deep breath - and press "g" to execute, then "q" to quit "debug". Your HD is now in a virgin state, and ready for partitioning and installation.

Glad I could help, Rodrigo (or is that 'rodrigo!!'? :) -=- Ben Okopnik!!

MS Frontpage98 Server extention Redhat Linux 6.0 vs ASP

Thu, 31 May 2001 16:00:39 -0400 (EDT)
QUestion From: Francois
Tip From: Daniel S. Washko (The Answer Gang)

Hi I am currently running MS Frontpage98 Server extension Redhat Linux 6.0 (Apache) I would like to know if it is possible to run ASP on the same configuration. Would it be a Frontpage Upgrade or would it be on the Linux Side and is it major changes?. Any help would be highly appreciated. Thanx


You should be able to build apache with both Frontpage98 and ASP, but you will need to add mod_perl first. Check out this site: http://www.nodeworks.com/asp

-- Daniel S. Washko

YAHE: run BIND safely

Tue, 05 Jun 2001 08:04:47 -0700
Benjamin D. Smith (amp from benjamindsmith.com)

(Yet Another "Helpful" Email)

BIND sucks, and we all know it, even though it is a core piece of infrastructure to the 'net. Bind 9 looks good, but I don't quite yet feel ready to deploy it. Instead, run BIND in a chroot jail - so even if it gets hacked, they don't "get" anything.

There's a howto at linuxdoc.org:


Thanks Ben, and for your thoughts on the learning curve of Windows vs. UNIX type systems, posted in the Mailbag this month. Just about any dangerous daemon might be a tiny bit safer in a chroot jail. It's not a perfect trap without some use of the 'capabilities' (privileges really) in newer kernels, but it's pretty good. -- Heather

Linux solution to syncing with Exchange Address books as a client

Tue, 22 May 2001 20:20:53 -0700
Question From: Alan Maddison
Tip From: Heather Stern (The Answer Gang)


I hope that you can help me find a solution before I'm forced back to NT. I have to find a Linux solution that will allow me to connect to an Exchange server over the WAN and then sync address books.

Any suggestions?


Alan Maddison

Well, we've had numerous past articles address the matter of replacing an Exchange server with a Linux box, but you're asking about being a client to one...
And I can't just point you at the Gazette search engine :( because "Exchange" is way too common a word. MX records and the server side of this question will flood you, even without people just using the word for its real meaning.
But, we had a mention in a past issue (http://linuxgazette.net/issue58/lg_tips58.html#2c/6) about Bynari having a good one - they also have a server product. So I think you might find the Insight client to be just what you need! (http://www.bynari.com)
I post it again because I have to update you ... it's not free - you have to pay them for their hard work in getting the protocols right. Their website has a "price special" but it appears to have expired a month ago, so I have no idea what they cost, but it's probably not trying to be too expensive. -- Heather

This page edited and maintained by the Editors of Linux Gazette Copyright © 2001
Published in issue 68 of Linux Gazette July 2001
HTML script maintained by Heather Stern of Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/
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