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The Mailbag

HELP WANTED : Article Ideas

Send tech-support questions, Tips, answers and article ideas to The Answer Gang <tag@lists.linuxgazette.net>. Other mail (including questions or comments about the Gazette itself) should go to <gazette@linuxgazette.net>. 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.


Mon, 26 Nov 2001 22:18:58
Philippe (philippe341 from nerim.net)

[with a bow to our translator Frank Rudolf] Any reader out there inclined to help out, please mail Philippe, and copy us here in The Answer Gang, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net. -- Heather

----- Forwarded message from philippe -----

salut je recherche des personnes qui connaissent dbman ,j'ai quelques problemes a installer les modifications , jesouhaiteégalement créer un forum sur ce logiciel

Hi, I am looking for people who know dbman. I have some problems installing the patches. I would also like to create a forum about this software.

dial-up and DSL

Wed, 12 Dec 2001 19:53:24 +0800
Henry Jesus S. Lastimosa Jr. (henryjl from cebu.weblinq.com)
Karl-Heinz gave this a shot but any of our readers with more experience in this regard are welcome to join in the fray, or even write up a longer article for the Gazette. -- Heather


i wonder if u can answer this question it really keeps on bugging me .... at present my company is connecting to the internet via DSL , is there a way that i can configure my linux box with a dial-up account from an ISP in case my DSL bugs down ?

it goes this way, i'll set up my linux box with DSL connection using IP masq and fetchmail(for e-mail), in any circumstances that my DSL goes down, i have to connect to an ISP which serves as a backup for my DSL. how can this be done ? or can this be done ???


thanks ,

henry lastimosa

I'm not familiar with DSL -- I assume it will use an ethernet adapter for the network connection. Basically nothing much changes if it's pppoe or similar.

You can check the DSL connection by pinging relevant machines outside or checking device status (ifconfig, cat /proc/***).

If this goes down you can/should disable the default routing over the DSL and start up a ppp connection to your ISP. This will give you a new IP number and a working ppp device. pppd will set the default routing for that ppp device.

If your box would be standalone and this would be only for the local machine that's it. But you have masquerading and maybe firewall rules set for the IP number with DSL -- which now won't work due to the IP number change.

You've got to setup the firewall/forwarding/masquerading rule again for the new IP number (probably every time new if dynamic IP like usual with dial up). After that it should work like before. You can even leave the DSL device active (but not default route) and check if it's online again. Then change back to DSL.

How to precisely setup the forwarding/masquerading for this I would be interested myself. Especially for automatic dynamic IP adapttion.


ssc, "Linux@Gazette" Request for assistance.

Mon, 10 Dec 2001 17:33:49 +0800
k.s. Teo (quality from magix.com.sg)
This reader clarified the initial email so I merged the letters. Anyone who works in real estate, manages their properties using free software, and feels inclined to tell us what you're using, please let us know. It'd make a really great article! -- Heather

Dear Editors,

To all Editors, should any of the Editors come across some application software on "Property Maintenance" please let us know.

We are referring to an Application software to manage the Maintenance of a high-rise Residential complex and its compound ( gardening, parking lots allocation, electrical replacement, refuse disposal, building maintenance, sport facilities book by residents, swimming pool, etc...etc.. ) ( apartment are owners occupied.)

We do not want custom program software, and would prefer existing & Tested application software.

We appreciate your assistance.

Yours sincerely,
K.S. Teo
Hotel Quality Source Co.


Comment on Dennis Field article. Why Linux is not winning the battle of the desktops.

Thu, 6 Dec 2001 08:34:37 -0800 (PST)
Javier Isassi (j_isassi from yahoo.com)

Greeting fellow Linux Lovers.

The follwing comments are in reqard of an article published in your December issue of the linux gazette entitled "Why Linux is not winning the battle of the desktops"

Let me start by saying: There's no such battle.

<Wry look> That pretty much sums up my take on the whole thing. As soon as I saw that article, I figured that it was going to draw a fair bit of flamage; I'm pleasantly surprised to see that the responses have been generally well-reasoned.

Besides - a rout is not a battle. <grin> We're not battling anyone, just taking a pleasant little walk in the park. If outdated businesses happen to fall by the wayside because they've stepped on their own shoelaces, why, <insert innocent look here> what do we have to do with it? <blink, blink>

-- Ben Okopnik

Oh, the battle exists, but only in the minds of the mainstream media who invented it. For them Linux won't "win" until there's no longer a need for an underdog OS to support. -- Jim Dennis

Moreover, the article was focused on one particular distro. If it were me, I would choose one of the major distros that I thought came from a big enough company to provide the basic features I needed to support the type of hardware I intended to run it on, then add the applications for the ecommerce (or whatever it happened to be) part of it later. I don't see any reason why the author was bound to use the same distro as had been chosen to run on the desktop machines in the business office environment.

Also, in the case of somewhat specialized hardware such as a laptop, as mentioned here in the past, there are a few web sites which cover Linux on laptops pretty thoroughly - he didn't mention looking at those sites to iron out the difficulties.

Back in the days of RH4.2, I recall having trouble installing to a desktop 486 machine I had. I tried Debian and RH without success. Then I went to Slakware and was able to get it installed. Those were the early days of hardware auto-detection and automated installs. At the time, Slakware was still very much a manual install, and so avoided the problems that the other distros were encountering. What I'm trying to say is that instead of banging ones head against the wall with one distro, it pays to try others. It was more work, but I had a functional Linux box, which included X.

-- John Karns

While developers of the multi-flavored Linux arena are working towards making Linux easier to run and configure it is accepted, well understood and furthermore ADVIRTISED that Linux is not the choice of the neofite moron trying to learn how to use a computer (AKA Windows user)

Furthermore the subsequent remarks towards making Linux a more "friendly" OS are also off the mark. Let's mention a few.

"Make Linux idiot proof"

There's already an idiot proof OS. Is called MAC OS, not Windows. Is robust and more secure than Linux and Windows put together. Drawback, you can't jack with it. Main reason Linux exist: "An OS that you can jack with it"

Or, to quote a UNIX old hand, Doug Gwyn:

"UNIX was not designed to stop you from doing stupid things, because that would also stop you from doing clever things."

However, specialist distros of Linux, designed to do only one thing well, do exist (routers are very popular variants, as are rescue disks). Companies sell special eqwipment for special purposes, which sometimes have a free OS under the hood. For instance, the thinkNIC (http://www.thinknic.com/thinknic) is a bookend PC with no hard disk, designed primarily for playing solitaire and web surfing. People who can't spell "OS" can't tell it's Linux; they just know they have to stuff its CD in there when they turn it on. -- Heather

"Give Linux users better customer service"

I worked in the customer service dept at Dell Computer for over 3 years. The number one reason people called could be nailed in one single sentence: "I was jacking with my system and things went wrong, can you change my diapers and fix my system?"

What kind of numbskull with pour money to support a staff to hear customers rebuilding the kernels or installing modules they code and compile? What is it that you are supporting? Coding? Linking and running? Unlike the wint-tel world where you have "parties" (vendors) providing you with software there are no "parties" in the OSC (Open Source Community) because NOBODY is paying for it.

First define the customers, then you can define the service. Companies that couldn't do the first, went early to the "dot bomb." There are companies making okay money by selling "professional services" aka rebuilding things and coding. Ship a pretty darn good product and excellent manual, and you still get calls, but more of them will be off the far ends of the bell curve... asking to do things that are complex, or completely beyond the scope (ok so now that I have Linux you guys can help me build my own TiVo before my 90 days are up?) or people who think that "ordinary" things like making sure the monitor is on are non-obvious and should have been in the book. Honest. I've been there too! (4+ years in MSwin and antivirus tech support.)

However, the same team that can, as you put it, change diapers may not be terribly good at wreaking deep kernel magic, and vice versa.

But I wouldn't say NOBODY is paying for things; We could hardly have so many boxed products in their third or fourth major revision, if that were the case. Imagine telling folks back in '94 that Linux was going to be on endcaps at Fry's, taking up half aisles, and random PCI cards would proudly stamp themselves "linux compatible". Hah! They'd have sent for the little white men. -- Heather

Anybody who believes that because they dished out 40 bucks at staples for a copy of Mandrake they are "entitled" to ANYTHING, the soon realized otherwise.

Entitled to keep the manual inside that box on the shelf and read it until it is happily dog-eared. If you're the sort who understands things without needing manuals, you don't need boxed Linux anyway. If you're not sure where your A: is (oh! the floppy! why didn' ya SAY so!) then that "90 days install support" may be valuable in helping you use the quickstart guides.

It's the job of the folks who design the box to set the expectations of the customer who will pick up and buy that box. -- Heather

To recap. Linux off the shelf is a poor example of a vanilla robust desktop OS. And proud of it.

We're not vanilla. We're mint chocolate chip, the other favorite flavor. Strawberries cost extra, low fat options available, etc. -- Heather

If all you want to do is browse the web and read your email get an iMAC. If alll you want is someone else read your email and browse your system get Windows with Outlook. For anything else...Linux.


Javier Isassi.

(no subject)

Mon, 3 Dec 2001 14:39:22 +0100
Ian Carr-de Avelon (ian from emit.pl)

In LG-73 Mr Field again argues, that to win the battle of the Desktop Linux "vendors" need to provide a much higher level of support. The battle for my desktop was won by Linux years years ago, but it may well be that the battle for Mr Field's desktop is not worth winning at the moment.

There is a famous quote (anyone know from who?) that "users must be made to believe that it is not the administrator's job to make them happy, it is the administrator's job is to make sure the system works. Then the system will work and the users will be happy most of the time. If users believe that the administrator has to make them happy, they will never be happy and the system will never work." This is not about whether users have a right to happiness, it is just a practical point that if the technically able staff in an organisation don't have the status to refuse to attempt to deliver what they know they cannot deliver, they will deliver nothing.

I wonder whether Mr Field's book shop sells books in foreign languages. If he sold a book in Russian and the client could not read it, because they didn't know the language, would he as "vendor" feel that he was failing to provide customer support? How could he expect to sell books to customers who could not read at all? Obviously he could not, he relies on schools and parents and the customer themselves to put in a huge effort to be able to use the products he sells. Maybe he should make use of his bookstore to purchase some books on Linux and take the time to learn Linux at a realistic rate. I'm not against Linux users helping each other for free, nor am I against people who need assistance paying a company for that if they can afford to. However when Mr Field suggests, that if what he paid for the distribution could never finance the open ended unlimited support he would like, that they could at least encourage their knowledgeable users to spend 10 hours sorting him out for a chance at a 5$ hat, we see what kind of person we are dealing with. Maybe he should start offering 5$ hats to customers who will give free Russian lessons so he can sell books in Russian.

If you believe that a knowledgeable person could solve your problems in 10 hours, and that that would be good use of their time, please pay them for that 10 hours. If someone is prepared to give 10 hours to making Linux better, please let them decide for themselves what they will do in that 10 hours. If Linux can be difficult to install, that may put some people off, but I can't see Linux users working 10 hours for a baseball cap as a way to encourage people to become Linux users. Linux users of the world unite, you have nothing to loose but the chance of a 5$ baseball cap.

When efforts are going to made it is only reasonable that those providing the resources decide what they should be used for.



... to which Mike replied, and Ian responded ...

In LG-73 Mr Field again argues, that to win the battle of the Desktop Linux "vendors" need to provide a much higher level of support. The battle for my desktop was won by Linux years years ago, but it may well be that the battle for Mr Field's desktop is not worth winning at the moment.

There are two sides to this issue,

No, there are many sides to the issue, because Xfree86-GNU-Linux is not a simple vendor & client product. Mr Field's basic argument is exactly that he paid Linux for a CD and it didn't work out, so Linux should get its act together. We all understand that there are a whole series of groups here: open source developers (Linus, FSF, LDP, Xfree86), the distribution, the satisfied users and dissatisfied non-users like Mr Field. Each has their own motivations and it can't be accepted that we all go down together at the battle of Mr Field's desktop. (actually laptop, but lets keep this clean).

However, I think what Dennis is saying is that a higher level of vendor support is necessary for Linux to be a viable alternative in many retail and other workplace situations.

I accept this, but the response to the article has to be a) how people in the situation can realisticly use Linux as it is, and b) consideration by knowledgeable people of how resources which can be made available can best be put to use. If we allow the complaint to undermine our confidence in Linux, as a system we have proven in use ourselves, and accept that we should apply our selves not as we do, but as Mr Field thinks best, then we will have allowed Mr Field to become toxic to us.

This is also

known as "enterprise-level" support, and any company that switches a vital component of their business (such as their inventory system) to a new application will make sure the support is available, either from the vendor or in-house.

I have no problem with this, but I don't expect enterprises to get this level of support for the price of a Linux-CD or a hat. This initial problem relates to getting Linux installed on a single specific PC. Do you think that if the distribution sent someone round and made Linux work on this PC, that Mr Field would soon have his inventory system working under Linux? My guess is that he will run straight into another problem and another. Solving problems and accepting that this modem or that scanner does not work and will have to wait for a development or you to learn more, is the reality of using Linux. It may even be that if the installation goes too easily, you have lost an important chance to learn and have gained an unrealistic expectation of how things will go with the whole system.

"Not worth winning": perhaps, perhaps not. It may not be the vendor's "responsibility" to provide the support; but on the other hand, if they want those customers, they will provide the support.

If the vendor says "we will provide support" they have a duty to do that (however you quantify support), but it can't be accepted that Linux users have a responsibility to provide the support which a vendor promised. If the cost of a Linux CD plus the cost of the support Mr Fields needs is an attractive one to Mr Fields' employers, let the vendor make the sale and Linux can advance; but don't lets have high-maintenance users and vendors using us all to meet unrealistic expectations for a baseball hat or two.

Giving up on those

customers means they will be stuck with a commercial OS that only works at all for them simply because they happen to be included in the OS company's marketing target. If the OS company decides his business (and that of everybody like him) is insufficiently significant to their [the OS company's] bottom line, the next version of the OS may be incompatible with what he needs, and then he'll be up the river.

Who ever produces the software they use, it takes effort. The fact that a commercial organisation (two if we count the Linux vendor) can benefit is not in itself sufficient reason to work 10 hours for a baseball cap IMHO.

Yours Ian

Mike made an effort to forward the conversation to Dennis, the thread continued, and some of the conversation never made it to me. But here's the tail end of it... -- Heather

Until such time as we can get all the people who are currently running their small businesses and home offices with Windows to take several years of graduate courses in Linux, then there is no point in even trying to compete with Microsoft.

Either they learn enough to use Linux as it is available now, or Linux has to be out of the box ready, or they can't use it. I'm not saying how it should be, or it would be nice if it was. Learning to use Linux is something it is easy to give pointers to. Making Linux more out of the box ready is generally more difficult and there are several ways of going. If you go in the direction of writing clever scripts which detect the hardware and set the configuration, then SuSE and Red-hat are about as good as you can get with the resources anyone has available. If they are not good enough for you, maybe you will get lucky with the next release, or the same release on a different PC, but there are no miracle distributions just round the corner. You suggest that users could sort themselves out if there was a web forum. In fact there is lots of help on the Internet, database of laptops with Linux, almost every package has its own web site and mailing list. I recently installed Slackware 8.0 on a Tulip PC and found problems like the address in Netscape being displayed black on black. I worked out a way round and emailed XFree86. In order get the information to someone who may be able use it and avoid every distribution which has the same Xfree86 version having to have someone reinvent the same wheel, I had to understand quite a lot about how the Linux system operates just to make a decent bug report. The other way to to make Linux out of the box is to supply preinstalled systems, even with remote administration, or be a Linux based ASP and let the customer use your Linux via the Internet.

But I guess Red Hat and SUSE and Caldera don't care about selling to the small business market.

These are top companies at what they do. Would you write off Ford because their cars take 20 hours (personal tuition) to learn to drive?


only thing I don't understand is why does IBM provide all that information about their products? Surely IBM's customers could just figure it out for themselves if their computer doesn't work?

IBM has all that information to hand and the costs of putting it onto the net are less than having someone to pick up the phone to say "hello this is IBM, anybody who knows anything is too busy to talk right now."

Yours Ian

What must Linux vendors do?

Mon, 3 Dec 2001 10:58:23 -0800
Dan Wilder (The Answer Gang)

[ ... ] if the technically able staff in an organisation don't have the status to refuse to attempt to deliver what they know they cannot deliver, they will deliver nothing.

This is elegantly put, and certainly true of situations far beyond the intended context of the discussion. I like it!

-- Dan Wilder

Link Update Request

Thu, 6 Dec 2001 11:15:23 -0800
StuffIt Web Evengelist (evangelist from aladdinsys.com)

Hello there,

During a recent surf of your site, http://www.medasys-lille.com, we noticed that at the following URL(s):


...you offer users help on how to handle downloaded files and you recommend rarsoft.com to handle downloaded files such as .zip, .rar, etc.

Hmm, are you sure you have the right people? I went there and I didn't see a Linux Gazette mirror site. -- Heather

We'd like you to consider including a link to StuffIt, or even replacing your existing recommendations with one for StuffIt. <http://www.stuffit.com/stuffit/win/>;



The competitors are not "free", but shareware, meaning your users will get a nagged to purchase every single time they download a file from the Internet. With StuffIt, unregistered users are only nagged when they create archives, NEVER when they open them.

StuffIt is the only product available on all the platforms your users may use. (Available for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and Solaris.)

StuffIt handles more formats <http://www.stuffit.com/stuffit/formats.html>; than any competing product and is the only product which handles the popular .sit format, which means your users have a better chance of accessing a file with StuffIt than with any other utility.

As the number one compression utility in the retail channel for Windows, StuffIt has proven itself as the compression utility of choice where it counts, on the street.

So do your users a favor and refer them to StuffIt <http://www.stuffit.com/stuffit/win/>;, in your FAQ's, and on any pages that offer .zip, .sit, or other supported file types for download.

If that sounds good, but you're wondering what might be in it for you? We have an answer! If you respond to this email to let us know that you have added a link to StuffIt to your web site, we will gladly offer you a choice of a free registered copy of StuffIt in any platform you would like - OR - a free t-shirt (black) that says ".sit happens!". (T-shirts are in limited supply so act quickly if you want one!)

Please let us know if you have any questions and especially if you'd like to collect on some free software or logoware.


Eric Kopf
StuffIt Web Evangelist

We don't offer .zip or .zit files, only .tar.gz. -- Mike

Aren't you supposed to use "squeeze" for that last one? Or does "pop" provide the same functionality? -- Ben Okopnik

We don't offer .rar either and infoZIP is free enough for most of our users.

I regret to note that I have trouble using Aladdin's "stuffit for Linux" to reliably unpack .sit files meant for Macs (I was trying to get at some PICT resources that fit a theme I'm messing with, I wanted to see if GIMP would load them. All but the text files unpacked to zero bytes length). I assume that the Linux version is allowed to fall behind the Mac version and it shows. It just doesn't win points for me if Aladdin's app doesn't work with their own Stuff :(

As for free. "only nagged when they create" isn't very free. Most shareware I have encountered never nagged anyone at all except in the documentation. (Including the about box, of course, so you know how to get ahold of the author.) Most Linux utilities don't even need a postcard. For some of our, ahem, more evangelistic types, free means we know how it works under the hood (academic papers ok, code preferred), and for the more vehement among those, it includes the right to make derivatives that stay free in the same sense. You really have to be careful about the difference between "0 dollars and no sales tax" and "freedom of assembly" :) around here.

I don't think we have any serious all-in-one decompressor libraries... and why should we? The individual ones work fine, and we have lots of shiny front ends for the itty bitty command line apps or to call our .so APIs. mc is my personal favorite, but some of my friends like GUItar. -- Heather

Your "Cleaning up the MBR" instructions

Thu, 13 Dec 2001 10:21:54 -0800
Ben Okopnik (The Answer Gang)

Hi Ben,

I have a laptop that was turned into a doorstop when I tried to reinstall the original image after experimenting with Mandrake 8.1 (really needs more of a machine than that laptop is). Every attempt at fdisk seemed to work but attempting to boot the machine froze with "LI" and a blinking cursor on the screen.

I tried your instructions using Tom's root-boot, and got nowhere but an error message stating that /dev/zero was an invalid option for if in dd (I'm sorry, I had already tried the assembler version before I thought of the fact you might like the actual text of the error. . .duh!!).

No big deal, although I would have been curious to see the error. If it does say something like that, however, it's possible that "dd" is somewhat broken in Tom's rootboot; several of the "adaptations" of programs (most of them seem to have been rewritten in "lua") are, to some degree. For instance, the "chroot" in Tom's doesn't let me spawn a shell, which I consider broken behavior.

However, it's not a problem: any method by which you can write 512 nulls to the beginning of "/dev/hda" will do.

# If you just don't care about what's on the HD...
x="\0"; for n in 1 2 3 4; do x=$x$x$x$x; done; printf $x$x > /dev/hda

# A nicer way to do it
x="\0"; for n in 1 2 3 4; do x=$x$x$x$x; done; printf $x$x > nada
dd if=nada of=/dev/hda bs=512 count=1

Anyhow, your DOS-based "debug" method appears to have worked. . .I was able to put a bootable DOS partition on the box again. Thanks for having alternatives; you might want to dig into the Linux solution a little further. FYI, this is a Toshiba 7000CT pII-266 with 4GB HDD and 64M in case you were wondering. Thanks very much for having this resource "out there!"

You're welcome, Dan. I get fairly regular mail thanking me for this one, which is certainly nice; it's even better to get one with a bug report included. Thanks!

what now?

Sat, 8 Dec 2001 15:46:01 -0800
Thomas P. Rowland (thomas.p.rowland from mail.sprint.com)


You've been around the block a couple of times. I've been Linuxing since '94(Slackware).

Anyhow, how can the Linux community stem the tide? Voluteer time to local schools to build networks? Online tutorials? I don't know the answer. But I'd like to help.

I don't believe that this is a "Linux" problem. Linux has been a solution for some, may be the solution for many, and offers hope for everyone.

I don't think of the situation as an inrushing tide to be stemmed. However, if I accept that analogy, then we are not on the shore; we are riding our own waves. Since we have already set sail a mere tide will not sink us. Other currents may run the S.S. Penguin aground, a gail may capsize us, or we might find ourselves becalmed (resting in our laurels?) and adrift.

As for how we can make Linux a better solution for a broader range of users, that's a bigger question. I would hate to sound like a communist but one slogan that comes to mind is:

From each as he or she is able, to each as he or she needs.

No single effort will do. This is not about defeating Microsoft, nor even about undermining commercial and proprietary software as an industry. It's about providing alternatives.

So, what can each of us do? I can contribute through technical support writing, by teaching and informed advocacy. Linus, Alan Cox, et al contribute through coding (and project management, and technical vision). The KDE and GNOME teams contribue through a different level of coding (user space applications framework rather than core kernel work). The FSF provides the tool chain and the utility set that fit between the kernel and the application space.

Perhaps you could help wire up your school. However, that is not a Linux effort. You should not volunteer with your local school board specifically to push a Linux aggenda. First it should be "your" school, in the sense that you are involved in it. If, from the vantage of understanding *it's* needs, you believe that Linux is the best available solution to some of their problems, then you can propose it.

If you can create an online tutorial; that's great. Better, if you can improve an existing one.

For example there is the GBDirect sponsored "Open Source Training" effort at: http://www.opensourcetraining.co.uk which offers curricula for the professional trainer under licensing terms that are very close to the Linux Documentation Project (LDP) free documentation license. (In other words we are all granted royalty free license to copy, modify and present the materials; though publication/distribution of derivative works must be approved by the author).

There is a whole section of the dmoz (http://www.dmoz.org and Google's http://directory.google.com ) directory devoted to training:


... so there's already a body of work to which we can contribute.

Of course online training only works for people who are exceptionally self-motivated. It also requires a persistence and a special mindset. Let's face it, most people can't benefit as readily by simply "reading up on it" as through more interactive means. A good instructor can teach more and more quickly than most people would learn on their own.

Otherwise the LDP (http://www.linuxdoc.org ) and a computer with a 'net connection would be all anyone needed. (Arguably that's all that most of us needed to get started; but the point is that it's not enough to attract many other people to Linux).

So, those who are comfortable with public presentation and excel in the materials, might contribute by teaching.

Linux and other open source systems (such as FreeBSD and its ilk) are grass roots projects. They are the reaction of some programmers to the state of the industry. A true grass roots movement is not about grandstanding. It's about regular people doing what is right for them.

(This is not to say that Linux and the "open source movement" faces no real threats. The SSSCA, DMCA, and UCITA laws certainly pose great risks to fundamental liberties for programmers and users of all software. I wish I could claim that this was just an American problem --- but it isn't. These (proposed) laws are evidence that the U.S. legislature has been almost completely subverted by commercial interests and that only the barest whisper of lip service to our constitution and our Bill of Rights, remains. It remains to be seen how far the injustice will go and what measures may be necessary to stem that tide).


PS Very good article on the briar patch!

Paul Rowland Architecture and Engineering

Thanks -- Jim Dennis

Copying linux to a new disk

Thu, 20 Dec 2001 16:30:05 +0800
Gregory J Smith (greg.smith from mi-services.com)

G'Day from Australia!

Love your Gazette. I have a couple of Linux systems at home.

[his question, trimmed like an xmas tree.]

Cheers, Merry Xmas

Please ignore my question sent previously - followed your advice and found info in a mini-HOWTO. Will try soon and post some question about it. Fingers crossed.

Greg Smith

Thanks, Greg, we hope that HOWTO works out for you. But if not, let us know! -- Heather

Free software appreciation

Mon, 31 Dec 2001 09:16:26 -0800
Bryan Henderson (bryanh from giraffe-data.com)

Mike Orr writes in the December issue about one of the dangers every free software developer faces: lack of appreciation from users. His point is a good one, but the article was inspired by the resignation of Christoph Pfisterer from the Fink project, which doesn't really illustrate the point.

Mike writes, "A developer is resigning from a free software project because of the unappreciative demands of its users." I know that issue pretty well, and it interests me, so I read the resignation letter and the references linked from the letter, and I discovered that this is not a case of unappreciative users.

This is a case of an arrogant developer who doesn't appreciate the situation of his users. Two of his references for why he is resigning are bug reports that look pretty polite and appreciative to me, but Pfisterer flames the user for being to lazy and stupid to solve the problem himself. He also seems to take personal offense at the suggestion that his work may be defective.

There's nothing the user community can do to keep a prima donna like this working on free software.

The other references have to do with beneficiaries of Fink not giving sufficient credit to the people who worked on Fink. But those appear to be genuine misunderstandings and disagreements over how much credit Fink deserves.

From the facts available, I believe Pfisterer is new to supporting software used by the masses, and in time he will mellow and start contributing to free software again.


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Thu, 20 Dec 2001 09:02:24 -0800
anonymous (address withheld)

Please take me off the mailing list for your newsletters or tell me how I can unsubscribe.

Go to http://www.ssc.com/mailman/listinfo/LISTNAME and you will have an opportunity to unsubscribe. If you don't remember your password, there's a section where you can have it mailed back to you.

-- Mike Orr

Re: A querry

Sun, 2 Dec 2001 10:28:25 -0800
dinesh (dinesh from neline.com)

Dear Sir,

Can you help me if I have a querry pertaining to Linux ? How can I ask questions, if there is any forum or something, kindly let me know.

See The Answer Gang FAQ at http://www.linuxgazette.net/tag/members-faq.html -- Mike Orr


Thu, 27 Dec 2001 14:45:22 -0800
Mike, Ben, and Chris (Linux Gazette Editors)

The latest TAG FAQ and KB are up. A big round of applause to Ben Okopnik and Chris Gianakopoulos for bringing these up to date!!!

http://www.linuxgazette.net/tag/members-faq.html http://www.linuxgazette.net/tag/kb.html

-- Mike Orr

<twisting toe shyly in the sand> Shucks. 'Twern't nothin'... err, I lie. It was a hell of a lot of work, and a BIG chunk of it done by Chris this month while I was dealing with Real Life and wrestling with the various relevant meta-issues involved in the production. YAY, Chris!

<Grin> All made worthwhile by seeing the result, though - and it's going to get even bigger, and be a better resource for the community. Mike, whose oversight is just as much of a contribution as any, deserves a big hand too.

Good to be working on this with both of you guys. -- Ben

Thanks for that recognition! It's fun to be part of the Linux Gazette. I also thank everyone for the encourgement that you all have given me for the past two years with respect to Linux stuff.

Have a good set of holidays -- all of you! -- Chris G.

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Published in issue 74 of Linux Gazette January 2002
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