Letters to the Editor

Readers sound off.
Part-Time redefined

Although I'm convinced you selected BBSs for your list because they represented the best physical distribution, I am also honored and delighted in seeing the Part-Time BBS in the first column! Thank you!

The column also prompted me to update the files on the system—I figured if you were so kind with your words, I had better at least respond with some kind of positive action. So the Slackware 2.1.0 distribution is now on-line and available for download.

In spite of the name, Part-Time BBS is available 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, and since I've become interested in Linux, it has been extended to be a repository for Slackware. I am also (if I can ever find the time) exploring ways to actually convert what is already on the BBS (there's a lot more than just Linux) to a BBS running under Linux.

Thanks again!

—Tim Gales, tgales@empros.com

Bad review

Dear Sir,

Vince Skahan's review of the book Making TeX Work [December, 1994, Issue 8] was very unfair. He clearly does not like either TeX or emacs and so it is not surprising that most of his comments are negative. He seemed not to be sure for whom the book is intended. Well, I can tell you that; it is intended for people like me. I have The TeXbook and I have done quite a bit of document writing (I have even set tables with \halign, wow!) but I have gotten to the stage where I need more information about the tools that surround TeX and how they fit together. This book is just what I need.

Vince was “hoping they'd pick an editor (even [ugh...] emacs) and give some real details regarding how to hook in and use [it] to efficiently write TeX documents” but the book explains about the tex and AUC-TEX modes in emacs and how to implement the edit-run-edit cycle within emacs. What more does he want? The font chapter contains “more than any sane person would want to know about font selection and generation”. Vince may not be interested in fonts but lots of people are. I have recently gotten involved with dvi drivers and I am very much interested in font selection and generation.

He ends by recommending to your readers that they save their pennies, learn SGML and get the rest of what they want off the net. I suppose you can get everything off the net if you spend long enough searching but, like most of your readers, I don't have time to waste and I am happy to spend $30 for Norman Walsh to put the hours in on my behalf and collect the results into a book. Why else would your reviewer have 19 O'Reilly books on his shelf? This was a shabby review and you chose the wrong person to do it.

Yours, etc.

—Tony Sumner, A.Sumner@reading.ac.uk

Mathematica & Linux

Dear Sirs,

As a user and fan of Linux, an admirer of Richard Stallman, and also as an employee of Wolfram Research, Inc., it distressed me greatly to read a comment about Mathematica that Richard Stallman wrote in a news group. A fellow employee responded to it and has given me permission to forward his response to you.

—Philip J. Wall, philw@wri.com

Wolfram Research, Inc.

The original comment and its response follows:

In article 199502112331.SAA24982@pogo.gnu.ai.mit.edu, rms@gnu.ai.mit.edu (Richard Stallman) wrote:

Reportedly Wolfram Research has decided not to support Mathematica on GNU/Linux systems, because users would be able to change the kernel to work around certain deliberately inserted bugs designed to make Mathematica crash in some circumstances....

There is no truth to the suggestion that Wolfram Research has made any decision not to support Mathematica on GNU/Linux systems. In particular the idea that there are any “deliberately inserted bugs designed to make Mathematica crash in some circumstances” is complete nonsense. Mr. Stallman should probably check his information before posting.

Wolfram Research is in fact in the process of testing a version of Mathematica for Linux. If everything goes according to plan it will be shipping by the second quarter of this year.

For further information about availability of Mathematica for Linix, contact Wolfram Research at info@wri.com.

I hope this clarifies things.

—Ian Collier, ianc@wri.com Wolfram Research, Inc.