Linux Products and Events

MicroSat Ground Station Software for Linux and X-Windows, Toolkit for Linux CD-ROM (May 1994) and more.

This is the first ALPHA release (0.4) of my MicroSat ground station software for Linux and X-Windows.

The software is available by anonymous ftp from ftp.ucsd.edu in the file microsat-0.4.tar.gz. I uploaded it into the /hamradio/packet/tcpip/incoming directory, but hopefully someone will move it to the /hamradio/sat directory. I also uploaded it to ftp.funet.fi in the /pub/ham/incoming but should be moved into /pub/ham/satellite/microsat.

To run this software, you must be running a 1.0 (or greater) kernel with the AX25.012 release of the GW4PTS AX.25 package (available on sunacm.swan.ac.uk in /pub/Linux/Radio).

All the programs are written using the OpenLook toolkit, but should work with other X-Windows window managers (i.e., tm).

This release consists of the following programs:

  • xpb - broadcast monitor

  • directory - directory list viewer

  • downloaded - downloaded file list viewer

  • viewtext - uncompressed ASCII text file viewer

  • upload - message upload application

  • message - message preparation application

Also included are:

  • lha - unpack an lhz compressed file

  • unzip - unpack a PKZIP file

  • xloadimage - an X-Windows image viewer that has been modified to display EIS images (directly from the .dl file, and from the extracted file)

You should note that this is still ALPHA release software (as is the AX.25 package for the kernel), and I am continuing to develop this software. I believe that it is now in a state that others can give me good feedback.

The release includes all the source, and I encourage others to help develop this software package. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who is planning to make fixes/changes/enhancements to the software, so that I can try to coordinate future releases.

Toolkit for Linux CD-ROM (May 1994)

The new Toolkit for Linux CD-ROM from Walnut Creek features the sunsite.unc.edu archive and the ALPHA and BETA directories from the tsx-11.mit.edu archive. Distributions include Slackware 1.2.0 and MCC. Also includes Xfree86 2.1 and 1.3, tcl/tk, gcc2.4.5, libc4.4.4, emacs 18.58 and 19.22, GNU Ada, lisp, Prolog, Fortran, rexx, Eiffel and more. $39.95 from Walnut Creek CD-ROM, 1547 Palos Verdes Mall, Walnut Creek, CA 94596, e-mail info@cdrom.com, phone +1 501 674-0783 or fax +1 510 674-0821.

Linux & Internet Congress Proceedings

The Linux & Internet Congress sold out in May, but the Congress Proceedings, with articles written by Linus Torvalds, Eric Youngdale, Remy Card, Stephen Tweedie, Bob Amstadt, Drew Eckhard, Dirk Hohndel, and others, is now available. Most of the articles are in English, some are in German. Approximately 380 pages, price 66.-DM (approximately $30 US) plus shipping. Contact:

JF Lehmanns BuchhandlungHardenbergstr. 1110623 BerlinPhone: +49 30 31592320, Fax: +49 30 3139177E-mail: bestellung@jf-lehmanns.de

The International Symposium on Linux

Linux users and developers are invited to attend the International Symposium on Linux, December 8-9, 1994, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The entry fee is approximately $75, or $50 for students, in an attempt to just cover the costs of the conference. If enough people participate, the entrance fee will be lowered.

For information, use anonymous ftp to beatrix.icce.rug.nl in /pub/symposium. There is a list of visitors, speakers, and cheap hotels in Amsterdam. You may also send e-mail to linux@icce.rug.nl . The Linux Symposium is organized by the ICCE, University of Groningen, specifically by Frank B. Brokken, Karel Kubat and Piet W. Plomp.

For those without e-mail, you may send paper mail to Karel Kubat, ICCE, Westerhaven 16, 9718 Groningen, Netherlands.

Yggdrasil Summer `94 Linux Plug-and-Play

by Phil Hughes

We just received a review copy of this package compliments of Walnut Creek CD-ROM (info@cdrom.com or 800-786-9907 in the US). I don't intend to write a comprehensive review here, just offer a quick look at what you get. Expect a more complete review in a future issue of Linux Journal.

Having used the Yggdrasil Fall 93 version of this product as well as both Slackware from Trans-Ameritech and on floppy directly from the archives on ftp.cdrom.com, I have some reasonable experiences for comparison. And the executive summary is that no Linux distribution is perfect (yet) but this one is certainly worth considering.

What Yggdrasil has attempted to do is give you a package that is easy to get up and running and is complete enough to satisfy most any Linux user. To make this possible you get a 95-page manual, CD-ROM and a 3.5" boot disk. The front cover of the manual tells you what is included (76,323 files, X-Windows, Andrew System, Networking, Games, Multimedia, Text editors, Desktop Publishing and Telecommunications) and the back lists the supported hardware. Thus, you know what you are getting before you have to open the package.

The first 1/4 of the manual takes you through the installation. But, even without reading the manual, it is easy. You boot from the floppy and load a live Linux system with the CD-ROM as your main file system. It's slow but it works. You then have options for how much to install on your hard disk with choices from 4MB to 1GB. If you select the custom installation (best choice as there is a bug in the standard installation) about 35MB of files are loaded. They you can use a tck/tk-based installer program to select the packages you want.

The hardest part of the whole installation is waiting for information to be loaded. I loaded about 200MB of files from an old Mitsumi CD-ROM drive with 8-bit controller and it took almost a day. But it worked. And I had a system that booted, recognized my ethernet adapter, configured X pretty much automatically and talked to my network with no hitches.

[Ed: I also ran Plug-and-play, on a machine with no hard drive at all, simply running off the CD-ROM, and was quite pleased with how easy it was to use. It was at work, and my boss was quite impressed.]

But, as I said, no distribution is perfect. Once you have your Plug-and-Play box up you can play a lot. But if you want to configure printers or any of the other mundane configuration jobs you will have to dig in and do it yourself. Also, on the negative side, the package selection menu is at the level of “do you want the Andrew system” and “do you want Emacs”. Reasonable but distributions like Slackware offer you a much finer set of choices—something that could be important if you are a little cramped for disk space.

The other reservation I have about Yggdrasil is that they have ignored the Linux file system standard. The standard isn't perfect (and it is really an evolving standard, not a cast-in-concrete one) but Yggdrasil makes no attempt to follow it. This may not be a problem as long as you stay with Yggdrasil distributions but could cause problems if you add packages from other distributions or archive sites in the Internet.

Are there any bugs? Most certainly. During the installation there were a few unexplained error messages. beach_ball blows up but xgopher works. There is a bug sheet that comes with the system. And I am sure there are more bugs. But Yggdrasil makes this information available. You can get a current bug report list by sending e-mail to query-pr@yggdrasil.com . And there is a built-in mechanism to report bugs via e-mail.

If you have a CD-ROM drive, Linux on CD-ROM is the way to go. The nominal cost is more than recovered in saved time and saved backup media. And “Plug-and-Play” is certainly worth considering.

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