Letters to the Editor

Readers sound off.
Applixware 4.4.1

I recently purchased Applixware 4.4.1. My reason for purchasing it was so that I could interoperate with co-workers who run MS Office. Applixware has the best MS Office import filters I have seen, but they are not quite perfect. I found that while text and tables seem to import well, figures are another story. So far, I have only tried importing a few MS Word 7.0 documents, but in general, the figures fail to convert. I recognize the complexity of the conversion task, and I applaud Applix for doing as well as it does. I hope the filters continue to mature, so that I can finally dump Windows 95 off my machine and use Linux exclusively.

—Steve Falco sfalco@worldnet.att.net

Erratum in LJ February 1998

I know that it is late to correct an erratum in the February issue; nevertheless, I think Linux Journal is a magazine to read and save for later use, so even such a late correction could be of some benefit.

The error is in Listing 5 of the article “Attaching Files to Forms”, in the column “At the Forge” on page 93. This listing should contain the following line between lines 2 and 3:

no strict "refs";

If this line is not present, the Perl interpreter will abort the script as soon as the variable reference $userfile is used for write. The uploaded file will be created but not written, i.e., it will have zero length.

—Aldo Mozzi medico.red@interbusiness.it

Answer to User's Question

In the November LJ, “Best of Technical Support” had a question regarding installing Linux (specifically X) on an IBM Thinkpad 365. There is an excellent article regarding this in Linux Gazette, http://www.ssc.com/lg/issue21/notebook.html.

I was able to get X working on Thinkpad using this guide, and the author, Sam Trenholme, was extremely helpful in getting me over a few problems when I contacted him via e-mail.

—Nate Dutra nate@the-wall.net

Eiffel, Design by Contract

Your fine web site, http://www.linuxresources.com is usually the first thing I check on weekdays when I boot up. You have helped me greatly in learning about Linux.

Thank you very much for reporting on Dr. Meyer, Eiffel and Design by Contract. Here are three open-source Eiffel and Design by Contract resources:

SmallEiffel, the official GNU Eiffel: http://www.loria.fr/projets/SmallEiffel/

TOM, a new GPL/LGPL OO language with multiple inheritance and Design by Contract traits: http://gerbil.org/tom/

A page I edit: http://www.newhoo.com/Computers/Programming_Languages/Eiffel/

—Jerry Fass fass@pitnet.net

Linux Installation and the Open Source Process

Last week I decided to totally change over to Linux after reading the latest horror story about Windows. Apparently, people connected to the Internet on W-95-98 can be snooped on simply by typing their IP number and a few backslashes. Suddenly, their whole system appears in the other person's MS Explorer window.

So here I am, scurrying to get a faster motherboard and a bigger hard drive. I am all enthusiastic about the new KDE and GNOME projects, yet when I read the installation manuals—S.u.S.E. or Red Hat—I am horrified by how much totally new and alien system configuration is needed for a new Linux user. The problem is exemplified by the marvelous advertising flyer sent out by S.u.S.E. for its 5.2 release. It seduces the user with a DOS-Windows box packed with a lifetime accumulation of precious utilities. It implies that UNIX clones for these treasures (and more) effortlessly await on the new Linux user's desktop. The actual case is that this happens only after endless installations and configurations.

The open-source concept has been much in the news lately, yet it seems that these installation processes are the one place where the open-source environment is not used to evolve solutions to these problems. Rather, it is the special province of the private bundling companies. Regardless of whether they put their products in the public domain, they are not developed in the open. People seem to believe that the greed of these companies will produce the fastest results, but I have not seen any miracles yet. Perhaps there are installation projects underway in the open-source community. If so, nothing could be more critical to the advancement of Linux.

We often hear people crowing in LJ that some huge corporation or the defense department is now more efficient because of Linux. I am much more impressed by ease of use by the ordinary person. If LJ were to make open-source installation projects a continuing focus of articles, it could do an incredible service to the evolution and spread of Linux.

—David Briars dbriars@sover.net

Easier installation seems to be what everyone is asking for these days. Red Hat is working on it with LinuxConf, and Caldera with COAS (see article in this issue) —Editor