Best of Technical Support

Our experts answer your technical questions.
Changing Finger Information

How can I change the “user's name” in my finger information to a different name? For instance, how could I change my name from “Dave” to “David” ? What commands would I need to use? —David Innes

You can change that information (and more) using chfn (for change finger name). To just change the user's full name, use:

chfn -f "Full Name" username

For instance, to change the full name of the user “random” , you might enter:

chfn -f "J. Random Hacker" random
changing the full name of the user “random” to “J. Random Hacker” .

If you run chfn as a regular user, you can leave out your own username since chfn defaults to changing your own information. (Only root can change another user's information.)

If you run chfn without the -f argument, it will prompt you for all the fields it can change. —Steven Pritchard President Southern Illinois Linux Users Group

Release Numbers

My distribution kernel is of version 2.0.27-5. What does the last number “5” mean? Some patch sublevel? Can I patch this kernel with patch-2.0.28 and patch-2.0.29 that are generally distributed at Linux web sites? Is this kernel somewhat modified and incompatible with these patches? —Oleg Zhirov Red Hat 4.1

The “-5” is a Red Hat-specific release number, For your particular version, it is the fifth time we've had to build the package for one reason or another. It has nothing to do with the kernel version or kernel patches.

This kernel should be patchable using the standard patches. However, I usually still suggest grabbing the entire tarball of the new version that you want, since there have been problems in the past with applying patches rather than using the full source. —Donnie Barnes Red Hat Software

Leaving Processes Running

How can a non-root user leave a process running while not logged in? I have seen this done by detaching screens under various Unix flavors, yet I haven't found a similar program for Linux. —R. J. Rodd Slackware

Most of the Linux distributions come with the program screen which allows you to do just what you describe. If you don't have it, you can get the source for screen from: FTP://

It compiles on Linux easily. —Steven Pritchard President Southern Illinois Linux Users Group

If you want to keep processes running in the background after you log out, you can employ the nohup command. Check the man page for details, but briefly, just insert nohup at the beginning of the command line you want to live on after you've logged out; e.g., if you've got a book you need to typset with LaTeX:

nohup latex book.tex &

Be sure to include the ampersand at the end to indicate to the system the process is to be run in the background. —Gary Moore, Technical Editor

Setting Up a Netware Network

I would like to place a Linux system on a network populated with IPX/SPX Netware file servers. I am hoping there is a way to give the Linux system a “Netware/IPX/SPX” personality, thus allowing access to it from existing Netware clients. Where can I get help? —Todd Morris Slackware 2.0.x

Take a look at the IPX HOWTO. Everything about IPX-based problems and solutions is explained in this document. —Pierre Ficheux Lectra Systemes

Changing X Managers

How do I make AfterStep the default window manager for X instead of fvwm2? —Mohammed Rizal Othman SuSE 4.4

For system-wide changes, edit the global xinitrc (usually in /usr/X11/lib/X11/xinit/). To change your personal setup, edit the file .xinitrc (in your home directory) or, if you don't have an .xinitrc file, just copy the global xinitrc to ~/.xinitrc and edit that. —Steven Pritchard President Southern Illinois Linux Users Group

Printing PostScript

I have been trying to create an entry in /etc/printcap for an HP Laser printer that is connected to the network using an HP Jetdirect card. I can get it to print, but I cannot get it to use the magic filter that comes with Red Hat to enable printing of PostScript files. Any help would be appreciated. —Pat Rooney Red Hat 4.1

Unfortunately, the normal lpd that we ship cannot handle using filters on remote printers. Only local printers may be filtered.

If you require this functionality, you can remove the lpd package and install LPRng or one of the other print servers available from the Internet. Red Hat is investigating the use of other print servers in future versions. —Donnie Barnes Red Hat Software


White Paper
Linux Management with Red Hat Satellite: Measuring Business Impact and ROI

Linux has become a key foundation for supporting today's rapidly growing IT environments. Linux is being used to deploy business applications and databases, trading on its reputation as a low-cost operating environment. For many IT organizations, Linux is a mainstay for deploying Web servers and has evolved from handling basic file, print, and utility workloads to running mission-critical applications and databases, physically, virtually, and in the cloud. As Linux grows in importance in terms of value to the business, managing Linux environments to high standards of service quality — availability, security, and performance — becomes an essential requirement for business success.

Learn More

Sponsored by Red Hat

White Paper
Private PaaS for the Agile Enterprise

If you already use virtualized infrastructure, you are well on your way to leveraging the power of the cloud. Virtualization offers the promise of limitless resources, but how do you manage that scalability when your DevOps team doesn’t scale? In today’s hypercompetitive markets, fast results can make a difference between leading the pack vs. obsolescence. Organizations need more benefits from cloud computing than just raw resources. They need agility, flexibility, convenience, ROI, and control.

Stackato private Platform-as-a-Service technology from ActiveState extends your private cloud infrastructure by creating a private PaaS to provide on-demand availability, flexibility, control, and ultimately, faster time-to-market for your enterprise.

Learn More

Sponsored by ActiveState