Best of Technical Support

Our experts answer your technical questions.
Formatting Back-up Tapes

Is there any program/utility that will format, read the contents of and selectively back up or restore information on tapes?

—Dave Blondell

A Utility for Backing up and Restoring

There's a powerful utility called


that's able to selectively back up and restore information on tapes, with or without verifying. It's very easy to use as you can just tag the files or directories from menus. [See “Tar and Taper for Linux”, by Yusuf Nagree, in LJ #22—Ed] Unfortunately, it cannot format tapes, so they must be bought preformatted (or formatted under DOS). I'm not aware of any utility that lets you format tapes under Linux.

—Flavio Villanustre

XF86Cig File under X-Windows

I am now trying to set up X-Windows, but I have no idea how the sections for “Device” and “Screen” of XF86Config file should be described. If you have any concrete example for my card, will you kindly let me know? My video card is: Canopus Power Window 968PCI-4M (S3)

—Hiroshi Shibata

Try This Instead

Rather than hacking the XF86Config by hand, have you tried using xf86config? (It should be in /usr/X11/bin.) The copy of xf86config that I have here (from 3.1.2D) lists an S3-968 (generic) option and that should work for you. The xf86config that comes with the latest XFree86 might even list your card specifically. If it doesn't work, you might want to try using some of the options at for other cards using the same chipset.

—Steven Pritchard,President, Southern Illinois Linux Users Group

Setting up Usenet News

How do I set up Usenet news (with CNews or INN)? What documentation/books are available?

—Koen Rousseau

First, Obtain a News Feed ...

First, if you want to carry the “real” Usenet, you must obtain a news feed from somewhere. Your ISP should be able to point you in the right direction, or sell you one themselves. Note that you don't necessarily need a news feed to use INN or CNews. If you only want to support some some local news groups, within a company intranet for example, then you don't need an outside feed. Looked at in that light, a Linux PC and INN can provide one of the most-touted features of a product like Lotus Notes (group conferencing and company-wide discussion forums) at a fraction of the cost. Once you've made arrangements for a feed, then you need to install the software. I recommend INN for new sites. You have a Red Hat distribution, and Red Hat has an RPM (Red Hat Packaging System) for INN on their ftp site under Download, then install with:

rpm -i inn-1.4unoff4-2.i386.rpm

It works right “out of the box”. You will, of course, have to configure it for your site—add your feed site to /etc/news/newsfeeds, nntpsend.ctl and hosts.nntp. Verify that the groups you want to carry are in /var/lib/news/active and newsgroups, and then configure nnrp.access to allow reading/posting from the proper IP addresses.

After that is all working add /usr/lib/news/bin/news.daily and nntpsend to /etc/crontab. News.daily and nntpsend should be run as user “news”, not as root. These programs expire old news and transmit your site's outgoing posts, respectively.

The RPM installs a FAQ under /usr/doc that should answer most of your questions.

—Bob Hauck, Wasatch Communications Group