Letters to the Editor

Readers sound off.
Re: Linux in Lebanon

These comments are about the article entitled “Linux in Lebanon” by Ibrahim F. Haddad which appeared in the January 1999 issue.

I was pleasantly surprised to see LJ cover Linux usage in our country and commend Mr. Haddad on a nicely written article. I would, however, like to point out that company usage of Linux has been somewhat downplayed. Our company is almost exclusively a Linux shop, and we have created very large web sites which are served on Linux machines.

For example, LebHost (http://www.lebhost.com.lb/) is a comprehensive search engine about anything related to Lebanon, and our main web site offers free web sites to Lebanese (http://www.greencedars.com.lb/). Both sites are Linux-based and very heavily visited. We also have dozens of hosted domains on Linux machines as well.

In our case, it was clearly not a matter of “follow the crowds”, even though Microsoft software is “freely available” in a pirated form here. We find Linux much more attractive to use because of performance, flexibility, superb support and source code availability.

—Edmond Abrahamian, PhD. edmond@greencedars.com.lb

Csound Article

I read the article in February's LJ, “Linux Csound” by David Phillips. I think you should add a link in the “Resources” section to the Quasimodo Project, http://www.op.net/~pbd/quasimodo/.

This project is a rewrite of Csound for UNIX, supporting multi-threading, with enhanced real-time performance, GUI, modular, etc. A first ALPHA (without GUI) is available now. When this project is finished, it will be absolutely the coolest Software Synthesizer System that has ever existed.

—Thomas huber@iamexwi.unibe.ch

SSC's Distribution Choice

I am a little confused over which distribution to get and install on my machine. All seem fine for most tasks. I remembered in a past issue of LJ that SSC uses the Debian distribution. Why was Debian your choice over other distributions? Was it because it is an all-volunteer distribution versus commercially-based distributions such as Red Hat, Caldera and others?

Additionally, if I choose a distribution other than Red Hat, I fear I may not be able to purchase software products because companies are specifically alliancing themselves to support only Red Hat instead of all major distributions (or, rather, certain components used in all distributions). This is reminiscent of Wintel systems versus Apple. More software was made to support Windows. People, like vendors, will go where more is offered. Distributions that are not Red Hat compliant will be left in the dust—a situation that will lead to factions within the Linux community. Companies need to provide products without requiring Red Hat be installed.

—Jean Tellier jtellier@cts.com

Yes, our primary reason for choosing Debian was that it is a volunteer effort. Red Hat is part of the effort to develop standards for Linux that will keep applications from being distribution-specific. While many companies have ported their products to Red Hat first, I don't think any have said they will not support other Linux versions. Informix came out for Caldera first but now works for the others as well. Corel's NetWinder comes installed with Red Hat, but Debian also works well on it. I think you can pick whichever distribution you wish without worry —Editor

Non-root Shutdown Possible with sudo

I saw a question in LJ January 1999 (“Best of Technical Support”) for which I can provide a suggestion. The utility sudo can be configured to provide non-root shutdown capability. sudo (su do) basically allows non-root users to execute a restricted set of commands. It essentially performs an su - root -c command but can ensure more restrictive access control and does not require you to give out the root password.

On my desktop, I configure it so that any time I want to run a root command (I log in under a regular user account called stephen), I just type sudo command, and it executes it for me without hassling me. Of course, you can configure it to require passwords, allow only a single command, etc.

More about sudo can be found at http://www.courtesan.com/sudo/.

—Stephen Thomas stephen@thomas.mitre.org

Name Misspelling

You accidentally spelled Jaroslav's name wrong in your article about Csound in the February issue of Linux Journal. The correct spelling is Jaroslav Kysela. (You were very close!) Thanks.

—Chris David cdavid@umich.edu