Best of Technical Support

Our experts answer your technical questions.
HP and Matrox

I have an HP Pavilion that comes with an on-board ATI video card. I now have a Matrox Mystic in the computer, and when I try to run X, I get the message “configured devices not found”. I think the HP is not recognizing the Matrox, but with the way the HP is set up the on-board disables itself when you install another video card. How can I make Red Hat 5 work correctly? Thanks a bunch.

—Fred Fredrickson, Red Hat 5.0

Sounds like the X server is still configured for the on-board video controller, which you say is now disabled. X won't find your new video card automatically. Try reconfiguring your X server for the new card.

—Scott Maxwell,

Login Names

Would it be possible to give a user a login name which consists of more than eight characters? For example, “fujigaki” and “mayuzumi” are quite popular family names in Japan. We wish to give them “hfujigaki” and “cmayuzumi” where the “h” and “c” are the first characters of their first names. In some UNIX systems, it is possible to do that. On the other hand, the default adduser command does not seem to support this extension. It would be great if this could be done.

—Tokuzo Shimada, Slackware 3.10

The latest glibc libraries (found in Red Hat Linux) allow a user name of up to 32 characters. The adduser (as well as other shadow utilities) script you've mentioned does indeed have a limitation, but it should not be that hard to modify it or create your own.

—Mario Bello Bittencourt,

Space Problem with X

Whenever I try to start X, I get an error message stating there isn't enough space in the /tmp directory. I've removed everything from that directory, but I still get the message. Is there any way to increase the size of this directory or at least force X to run? Thanks.

—Arnold Kelly, Caldera 1.2

You don't need to make space in the /tmp directory only—you can also free up space elsewhere on the same file system. On my computer (which is also running low on space), df reports the following:

% df /tmp
Filesystem 1024-blocks Used Available Capacity
Mounted on /dev/hda2 495746 468014 2129 100% /

This says that my /tmp directory is on the /dev/hda2 file system. Try the same with other directories, making space where you can in other directories on the same file system. In particular, I'd suggest checking /var/log, where your system logs are kept.

—Scott Maxwell,

Recent Hardware

Is there an up-to-date list of supported, recent hardware? How can I find out if Linux will run on a new computer configuration?

Your answer will determine whether I give my 486 to my brother-in-law or keep it as a Linux box.

Thanks for your time.

—Al Rivera, Slackware 3.4

You should check the Hardware-HOWTO on all the LDP mirror sites. However, I'm pretty suspicious of recent hardware; hardware manufacturers are always creating new stuff, and they rarely offer a Linux driver for their products. Linux support usually arrives later than the hardware product, but unless you play video games, you never need the processing power they're trying to sell you.

I prefer to buy my hardware from Linux-aware computer shops: that's the only way to be sure I won't be throwing the whole box in the wastebasket.

—Alessandro Rubini,

Printing Unformatted Text

I have an HP Laserjet 2p. The installation of Linux went well but when using lpr to print out a file, I get approximately three lines of unformatted text. At other times, I get no output at all. The entry in the printcap file that refers to the Laserjet yields two names: lp and hdj:\. When hdj is entered as printer name, the system states that device is unknown. When the -P option is used, printer problems persist, i.e., they are unchanged. I am a Linux novice and I could use some help. Thanks for your input.


This happens because the printer uses the DOS convention for newlines: \r\n (return, newline), while UNIX text has only a \n at the end of each line.

You should either filter the text through unix2dos (or through sed) or avoid sending unformatted text to the printer. I use the a2ps (ASCII to PostScript) filter and then ghostscript to convert PostScript to a PCL print file.

Setting up non-PostScript printers as if they were PostScript is quite easy with modern distributions. Look for the “Magic Filters” package and install it.

—Alessandro Rubini,