...making Linux just a little more fun!

next -->

The Mailbag

HELP WANTED : Article Ideas
Submit comments about articles, or articles themselves (after reading our guidelines) to The Editors of Linux Gazette, and technical answers and tips about Linux to The Answer Gang.

James Roberts has agreed to coordinate the Windows Defectors series long requested in this section. His first article appears in this issue. Tom Brown and Petar Marinov have also expressed interest in writing for this series, and Tom's first article is in this issue too.

2-Cent Tips and The Answer Gang columns will be returning next month.


Clarification to TAG 93 #5

Sun, 16 Nov 2003 23:30:24 -0600 (CST)


Ben came up with the right fix to the "unresolved symbols in /lib/modules/`uname -r`/foo.o" error; however, his reason is flawed.

If the distro kernel uses a module to enable foo and the rebuilt kernel omits foo, or puts it inside the kernel, there is no place for depmod to insert the kernel module and it'll complain about the unresolved symbols. (If the required module is not available, the error will be something like "Device not found". It's been several years since I puzzled this one out, and I don't remember the specific error.) The fix, as Ben said, is to either rename or delete /lib/modules/`uname -r`/ before running "make modules_install". Or build a kernel of a different version, but I don't think that's within the scope of the OP's question.


The intended recipient of this message is the readership of the world
wide webzine "Linux Gazette". Any responses or discussion with the Answer
Gang or any LG editor may be published worldwide. Please don't reveal my last
name, email address, or company.  ...This notice supersedes any and all other
attached restrictions.
Thanks so much Robert! What with the October/November confusion as we spin up at our new home, it's continuity like this which keeps us going strong :) Plus, it allows me to sneak in a chance to remind everyone, you can contribute to Linux Gazette even if you're shy. We don't mind at all. -- Heather

[Regarding moving to .net] Thank you!

Sat, 1 Nov 2003 13:33:00 -0800
Rick Moen (the LG Answer Gang)
Question by Jack Townley (jack1953 from att.net)

Thank you for saving the Linux Gazette. What they did to linuxgazette.com sucks!

Thanks for writing, Jack. If you'd like to help us, at this point, getting the word out to people would be much appreciated. For example, submit the story to your favourite Linux news sites.

The staff here all changed our signature blocks to mention its new home, for instance. Note, most of the news sites who care seem to have caught on... so I'd say the next thing is, tell everyone you know who has a link to us to fix 'em to point at the Linux Gazette site they really want. -- Heather

Long Live LinuxGazette!

Mon, 3 Nov 2003 16:41:55 -0800 (PST)
Dave Bechtel (kingneutron from yahoo.com)

--Mad Propz to all of you for getting out from under the Evil Corporate Thumb(TM). :) Best wishes for the future issues, and keep up the good work!

(Thanx for all the great stuff you've done!)

I'm glad he gave us a translation. :) -- Mike
Thanks for a particularly silly sig block, though I do tend to snip them unless one of the Gang commented to 'em. And thanks for joining us at our new location :D -- Heather

Like the Phoenix

Tue, Nov 18, 2003 at 08:00:52AM -0500
Ben Okopnik (the LG Answer Gang)
Question by James A. Hess (jah from ipsg.com)

Ben, et al,

Thank you for continuing and resurrecting the Linux Gazette. I clicked on my old link to LG this morning and was depressed by what I saw. The format is terrible, the "articles" were of dubious quality and my favorite features were missing.

Fortunately, it wasn't too hard to find you again. Keep up the good work.

Thanks, James! We certainly plan on it; being able to create without censorship and interference was one of our main motivations in making this move. Good to see that you and many other folks recognize this move as a positive one; we certainly think it is, and look forward to bringing the best content we can produce to our readers.

Best wishes, Ben Okopnik


Tue, 25 Nov 2003 07:35:00 -0600 (CST)
Terry Therneau (therneau from mayo.edu)

A small suggestion from someone who has enjoyed your magazine for some time. In the page describing why you have moved to a new domain, not everyone (including me) will know what "CMS" means.

Take the editorial suggestion, or not. Do accept my thanks for your
work in creating the magazine.

PS. I've been using Unix since '79 or so, including scanning most of the source code to V6, installing Berkely 2.1 on a PDP 11/34, and thinking that our new VAX 11/750 was a powerhouse. To me CMS means "Cambridge Monitor System", a terminal based front end to the IBM mainframes, and the only OS I've used on a screen that was worse than using punch cards.

Terry Therneau

Good point. Sometimes we underestimate the variety of backgrounds our readers come from.
CMS means "content management system". Generically it means any systematized workflow for producing and maintaining documents. Every system needs some way for the author to write the document and submit it, and for the editorial staff to approve/deny it, make corrections, set meta-information like the title and bio, publish it, and maintain it after publication. In that sense, Linux Gazette has always had a content management system of some sort or another.
However, in the context of web services, CMS means a certain kind of software for handling the workflow, one that is web based. That's what we mean by "linuxgazette.com has a CMS". Most CMS' in this sense handle at least the editorial steps through the web via HTML forms. Some also expose this interface to the authors for the initial submission. A few also allow editing the article text through the web, although others handle this in the traditional way (the staff puts the file directly in a certain directory without using the web interface). Since many LG articles have images and supplemental files, the interface has to either handle these too, or else get out of the way so the staff can install these manually. Various CMS' include Plone (a Zope system), PHP Nuke (Linux Journal uses a heavily customized version of this), Drupal (used by Linux Ghoulzette, as we affectionately call that other zine -- well, it was Halloween when they unveiled it) :) , Slashcode (used by Slashdot), wikis, blogging tools, etc.
Many people think Linux Gazette left linuxgazette.com because of the CMS, but that's only partially true. For me personally, the CMS was only a minor problem - one that I feared the worst of, but that I was willing to allow a good try. The main reason I left was the lack of editorial oversight, which was significantly affecting the quality of LG content. Nobody at SSC is giving the authors feedback to help them improve their content or to generate article ideas. Many authors had stopped contributing to LG because of this, but indicated they would return to LG if it reverted to its traditional self.
The arguments against a web CMS are that HTML forms are cumbersome and inconvenient, you can't use your existing favorite software tools, it would take a lot of work to graft in the features LG already enjoys, and why fix something that ain't broke. The "lot of work" part can be seen at linuxgazette.com, where they are trying to integrate a text-friendly format (for blind readers), an all-in-one-page format ("TWDT"), better author attribution, a system for managing images, etc -- features we already have had for years. Most off-the-shelf CMS software does not have these features, and grafting them in often requires kludging around the program's design. -- Sluggo

Thanks for the X windows resolution article

Sat, 15 Nov 2003 23:29:53 -0500
Jonathan S. Romero (jo875452 from pegasus.cc.ucf.edu)


Thanks for hosting the X windows resolution change article at

I was having problems because a game I was running kept changing the resolution and not setting it back to the original when it was done.

I never imagined it was as easy as CTRL-ALT-+


Jonathan S. Romero

Linux Gazette reborn!

Wed, 5 Nov 2003 16:05:44 +0000 (GMT)

Thank you. This is great news for me. I don't think there is a Linux place in the web I loved and love more than (the old) Linux Gazette.

You made the right choice.

Thank you, Luca. It is nice to know that there are readers out there that appreciate the efforts that all of us at Linuxgazette.net are putting to good use.


-- Thomas Adam

Play Encoded DVDs in Xine

Sat, 8 Nov 2003 23:54:12 -0800
Thomas Adam

Hey All,

This is going to seem really picky, but this article:


demonstrates some rather poor techniques for compilation. Firstly, LeeAnne suggest that one compiles their programs as 'root' -- ERRM, bad idea. Secondly the use of "-" as a prefix for tar's options is not needed and can even lead to some ambiguity.

Any chance the author can be made aware of this?

It was published by Jeff, and he didn't put her e-mail address on her author page. I don't know whether she asked him not to, or that was his policy, or what. But we don't have her address. Maybe she'll see your message in the Mailbag.

-- Mike Orr (aka. Sluggo)


Technical changes in LG

Sat Dec 6 22:31:44 PST 2003
Sluggo (LG Editor)

As you can see, LG has a new look. Rob Tougher responded to our longstanding request for somebody to make a stylesheet for LG, and it looks great! He also helped me extensively to update the templates and Python scripts that generate LG, to implement the new look.

We've tried hard to make it reasonable for both graphical and text browsers. Let us know if anything blows up or you have any suggestions. The biggest problem we've seen is the menu being vertical instead of horizontal in Netscape 4. If anybody is still using Netscaoe 4.

[logo image]

We have a new logo, in order to get away from SSC-originated artwork and to distinguish our site from theirs. Actually, the "new" logo is a variation of Michael Hammel's "Gandhi" logo, which long-time readers will remember. We're not sure yet whether this logo will be temporary or permanent.

The pale yellow margin was chosen to complement logo color.

The TWDT version has a special style to be more printer-friendly. The left and right yellow margins are eliminated to prevent printers from drawing a toner-wasting large gray rectangle on each side.

Please help get the word out

Sat, 1 Nov 2003 17:15:01 -0800
Rick Moen (the LG Answer Gang)

If you're reading this then you already know that this issue can be found at: http://linuxgazette.net/issue97/

and probably guessed that this note was really written just after 96 released.
Let us know if there are any news sites who don't know about the move by now. You can let them know too, or have us send them a note. -- Heather

The only problem is that most readers are unaware of that, not having heard of the switchover to http://linuxgazette.net . Alternate formats include (aside from TWDT.html) a new PalmDoc version, suitable for reading on PDAs.

Also, if you know sites running Linux Gazette mirrors, please let their admins know. We've contacted the official mirrors, but there are lots we aren't even aware of, who are probably wondering why they aren't getting a November issue. (They need to redirect their mirroring scripts.)

-- Cheers, Rick Moen

At the time this was drafted, Phil Hughes was still swearing off the "monthly Table of Contents" style. Their linuxgazette.com site issued one anyway, thus many automated mirrors actually did get a November issue, albeit a drastically different and underpowered, barely edited, edition. If you see the old content on a site please advise their webmaster of the existence of both sites and our move to linuxgazette.net. If they'd like to come up to date with us, we'll gladly help with mirroring scripts. If they want to mirror both, we're fine with that too... -- Heather

apology (about submission policies)

Mon, 3 Nov 2003 18:27:31 -0800
Heather Stern (Linux Gazette Technical Editor)
Question by Tom Brown (tfbrown from ceinetworks.com)

Sorry for jumping the gun with my previous email. I realist now that sending you an email wasn't the right procedure.

Oh, that's quite alright! The small handful of us who edit LG are used to people sometimes responding directly to articles; I presume my name was made fairly easy to pick up :)

After checking out the guidelines for answering questions, however, I'm still at a loss. Mailing lists? (Don't hit. I told you I was a Linux n00b.).

Ok. Here's how it works. And TIA for the chance to clarify any points in our "FAQ" documents that really do need clearing up; after a while it gets a little more fuzzy, and that make it hard for us to truly look at them from a n00b's perspective. A fresh set of eyes does help.

If you've got a question in the realm of Linux, maybe "The Answer Gang" can answer it. Even if one of them can't alone, they might be able to, ahem, gang up on it.

Even rather new people might have tricks up their sleeve; anyone interested in watching the ebb and flow of questions, and possibly answering a few here and there, is invited to join the "tag" list - effectively becoming a member of The Answer Gang, too. It's all volunteer, so if you can't answer anything, you're welcome not to say much, and just lurk. You might surprise yourself and answer a few anyway. If this happens a lot you'll be offered a chance to raid the TAG fridge for some muchies and your beverage of choice.

We pride ourselves on possibly curmudgeonly and very human replies, because we're real people, not worrying so much about the clean white polish of a paper-white magazine. I have, however, occasionally warned people not to be too mean in their answers as things stray off topic. As I said then, the mantra of the overall magazine is "Maiking Linux Just A Little More Fun!" not "making the Borg kids cry." Various topics are considered bad, like people sending in their homework assignments without even poking around in some URLs and researching in search engines a little. We've tried to provide some help for folks who are about to ask - querents can read our "ask-the-gang" document - but generally we try to have some fun with Linux and get people going so they can have fun here too.

Anyway, my apologies. Tom Brown.

Please, take a look throughout the site, and let us know what you think about any of it that you like. Or especially any parts that confuse and annoy... so we can improve ourselves.

-- Heather

Is LG too strict or not strict enough?

Sun, 2 Nov 2003 21:33:50 -0800
Sluggo (Linux Gazette Editor)

Phil Hughes (the publisher of linuxgazette.com) claims that a main reason for eliminating the Editor was that readers were complaining we were too selective about what we publish, so they either felt they could not be authors or were too intimidated to ask. I was surprised to hear that because I never felt we were heavy-handed, but that's what he says.

For the record, I receive some three hundred articles every year, and publish all but three or four of them. The only ones I've rejected were advertisements disguised as articles, mindless Microsoft bashing (which belongs in comp.os.linux.advocacy), material we've covered extensively before, advocacy pieces that said nothing more than "Linux is good, try it" (you're preaching to the choir), and articles whose English was so bad that readers wouldn't understand significant points.

In every case I try to work with the author. Advertisements I send to News Bytes, or have the marketer get some employee to write a "balanced" article from a user's perspective. If it's an overpublished topic, I ask the author to elaborate on certain portions -- what we're looking for is new information -- or I notice areas in the author's expertise and ask them if they're willing to write an article about that. That's actually one of the fun parts of being an editor: giving article ideas to people based on things they've said. Articles with bad English I either proofread myself, find a translator or proofreader, or ask the author to find a proofreader. In most cases, the article either becomes acceptable or the author writes a different article for us. And sometimes the author goes on to write better articles later and becomes a regular contributor.

In addition, some articles had incorrect technical advice that, if followed, would make newbies shoot themselves in the foot. You don't mess around when talking about boot sectors, backups, security or corrupting data: you make sure that at least those parts are right. In every case I was able to tell the author myself how to fix the article, or sent it to The Answer Gang for technical review, and the article was published.

This all is what goes into the process of "editing", and it seems to be what linuxgazette.com is objecting to in their attempt to have an editorless zine. As of November 2, they added one paragraph to the author FAQ I wrote, saying in part, "There is no editor as such and we're relying on authors to be self-editing.... Additionaly, assume that your article is publishable, at most we'll take a cursory glance at it, spell-checking and grammar are the author's responsibility." (http://linuxgazette.net/faq/author.html, question 1, paragraph 2) My position is the everybody needs a little help sometimes, and it's the editor's job to be that help.

As for reader complaints that we're too strict, I have not heard that even once from readers during my four years editing LG. Instead, in Slashdot comments and in other places, I see the opposite: readers wish we were more selective. Only a very few readers express an opinion either way, but that's the direction of all the opinions I've heard.

If you think LG is too strict -- or not strict enough -- in its article selection, please let us know.

LDP have the other issue 96

Wed, 5 Nov 2003 03:36:45 -0800
Rick Moen (the LG Answer Gang)

Quoting Jimmy O'Regan (jimregan@o2.ie):

See: http://www.tldp.org/LDP/LG/current

I can pretty much guarantee that you're seeing, there, just the operating of an automated mirroring script, pulling down files from the former LG.com site without supervision. It'll get straightened out eventually, with time. Maybe they'll decide to mirror both. ;->

Pity about the name confusion, but with luck the two periodicals will diverge over time (if both persist).

(We at LG.net's staff had no idea the former site would produce more issues: They'd lead us to believe they were moving entirely away from monthly issues, and adopting entirely dynamic CMS-based content. The staff considered that format incompatible with publishing a magazine, and failed to reach agreement on that with Phil Hughes over many months. That was one of the reasons we took Linux Gazette elsewhere -- so it wouldn't cease to exist. Therefore, LG.com's subsequent "issue #96" came as a complete surprise.)

[Heather] I'd like to note for the record that the actual inquiry I first made that led to the hosting we now have, was prompted by wondering whether SSC would continue to host us when none of our staff worked there anymore, NOT anything about stylesheets, layout, or automation. We didn't even know all those months ago who'd press enter on the Python command that sets the ball rolling for release. I just asked and T.R. was kind enough to say whatever we needed to do, he'd support.
When, a couple months later, SSC claimed that changing the site was being looked into so they could reduce personnel involvement - the word "costs" was used several time - I noted that we could reduce their cost to zero by moving away. We asked why fix what isn't broken. The claim was made - and I still haven't seen any real RFC822 messages to support - that readers claimed it was hard to submit. This potential about moving was shushed with "no, of course we'll support LG" and our "technical advice" was solicited for the new plans. Then the evil CMS buzzword was brought up, we debated about it ... um, vigorously. In the spirit of actually having our opinions sought. "Evil" I say because it had come up and either failed even basic marketing or been hoist by its own petard a couple of times before. (See the timeline if you care.)
As it is I regret now (in 20/20 hindsight) taking as long to support a move away as I did. I regret taking the flack that I did when I simply commented - in verbose answergang fashion - on the technical failings that cause "content managed" sites to fail to be magazines by nature. But I don't own a TARDiS. All I can do is move forward.
[Mike Orr, aka Sluggo] Yes, although these aren't the only reasons we switched. Ppl keep on dwelling on monthly issues and CMS, but the latter played only a minor role in my choice to participate, and the former played even less. I came back because:
[Heather] As of release time, the staff of The Linux Documentation Project are discussing what to do about the split project, and which to carry or point to. This really got into discussion mid November, and they probably want consensus; Jimmy O'Regan said they're pretty confused. I can't blame them, since my efforts to support even a college-try at CMS by announcing the preparation and the imbalanced opinions of it among the LG staff far enough ahead to get readership response in either direction were squished too.
[Jimmy O'Regan] To see TDLP thread: send an empty message to discuss-thread.5315@en.tldp.org
[Rick Moen] Web access here: http://lists.tldp.org
You'll want to use the left-side hyperlink on the name of the mailing list, in order to browse instead of search.
[Sluggo] The most ironic thing is, Heather had had the linuxgazette.org domain registered for years. But when Phil promised her early this year that he wouldn't change LG, she let it expire. Then when he did change it and we wanted linuxgazette.org back, it was too late, a cybersquatter had snapped it up. That's why we're linuxgazette.net instead of linuxgazette.org.


Thu, 13 Nov 2003 11:05:24 +0000
Jimmy O'Regan (the LG Answer Gang)

...the Debian package for issue 96 went up; and it's the "right" issue.

Debian url: http://packages.debian.org/unstable/doc/lg-issue96.html

transition of the ml

Sat, 15 Nov 2003 17:48:14 -0800

I was wondering why my tag accout got so few posts lately, so I looked again and found the new ml.

I hope you noticed mention of the new mailing list on the old one, and my posted suggestion to LQO subscribers that they join us over here.

Wasn't it somehow possible to transfer the old subscribers to the new list?

SSC has all the mailing lists' rosters set to be accessible to the listadmin, only. We've asked Phil Hughes for help in transitioning; he emphatically refused.

And maybe the list subscription page should be a little more prominent, I only found it by chance...

http://linuxgazette.net/tag/ask-the-gang.html definitely needs something near the top. Anywhere else?

-- Cheers, Rick Moen

We're looking into some style improvements; tho not so drastic as going "automatic" about it. Readers, let us know what you want. Better yet, let us know what you need if the site's normal layout gives you trouble. Stuff like this :) -- Heather

This page edited and maintained by the Editors of Linux Gazette
HTML script maintained by Heather Stern of Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/


Copyright © 2003, . Released under the Open Publication license unless otherwise noted in the body of the article. Linux Gazette is not produced, sponsored, or endorsed by its prior host, SSC, Inc.

Published in Issue 97 of Linux Gazette, December 2003

next -->