Letters to the Editor

Readers sound off.
Excellent Article on X Administration

The article “X Window System Administration” by Jay Ts in the December 1998 issue was well-written and full of relevant information. I am the IT Manager at a Novell/NT shop and have been using Linux at home off and on over the past couple of years. I still consider myself a novice user. A couple of weeks ago, I secretly switched a few of my users from an NT/IIS server to a Linux/Apache server running our Intranet. They noticed a definite increase in performance, and I plan to eventually move everyone over to the Linux server. However, on my end I was having problems setting up X on the server and finally decided that the command line would do. Then I read the article on X administration in LJ. Now X is up and running and configured to my specifications. Thanks for the help.

—Barry Julien bjulien@wallacefunds.org

User Friendly

Just wanted to let you know that I think adding the comic “User Friendly” to Linux Journal was one of the coolest things you have done. Well, on top of the awesome tech articles, etc. Thanks.

—Shawn Nyczd scordia@eden.rutgers.edu

Linux Threatens More Than Microsoft

Everywhere I look, I see articles describing the threat Linux poses to Microsoft. While there is some truth to this, I think what everyone seems to be overlooking is the threat it poses to other UNIX systems. I think this is clearly demonstrated by the fact that Sun and SCO have started offering free licenses of Solaris 7 and SCO 5.0.4 for educational and non-commercial use (users must pay a fee of approximately $20 US for the media and shipping). Admittedly, commercial users must still pay full price for a license, but by making their systems available to home users, hobbyists and students, they are acknowledging the threat Linux poses to their systems. After all, the reason Linus started developing Linux was to make it easier for him to learn UNIX. It would seem that Sun and SCO have come to the realization that anyone wanting to learn UNIX will not be learning their versions unless they make them affordable.

As a side note, I have already received and installed Solaris 7. While it is a good package, I found it a little disappointing. Having used various Red Hat distributions, I found Solaris to be a rather bare-bones system. I expect this will also be the case with SCO 5.0.4 when I get a chance to experiment with it. Sun and SCO should watch out—their efforts may be too little too late.

Keep up the great work with LJ.

—Mark Mathews garcin@earthlink.net


Thanks to Brian Harvey for his excellent article on VNC, “Virtual Network Computing” in the February issue.

I have tried several commercial tools to allow me to maintain an NT server from my desktop (the server rooms are cold). At best, I have had mixed results, often serious disappointment and consequences. I work in a semi-homogeneous networking/computing environment, mostly Novell and NT, with ERP/MRP management on OS/400, Win95/NT at the desktop, and a smattering of other UNIX workstations (mostly Sun). Linux is hiding all over the place on an increasing number of “dedicated service” boxes. We don't talk about it too much, since our IS upper management is still very skeptical.

Encouraged by Mr. Harvey's comments, I tried VNC the morning I read his article. I am delighted at both the cleanness and the benign operation on the several platforms of interest to me. It is a great effort on a strong computing foundation with room to grow. What more could anyone want?

Hats off to the good folks at Olivetti & Oracle Labs for such a fine addition to the rapidly expanding Open Source universe.

—Charles Cluff charles.cluff@cwix.com

Issue 58, February 1999

LJ is to be congratulated in consistently publishing a technical journal of high quality for a diverse readership. It clearly merits being classified as a journal even though it is not published under the auspices of some professional society.

Moreover, and this bears upon the ideas of the first paragraph, LJ is to be thanked and applauded for including articles and editorials dealing with the social issues pertaining to open software. The February 1999 issue stands out for both the guest editorial by Alessandro Rubini (citing prior work by Russell Nelson, August 1998) and the article by Dr. Steve Mann. A journal should take on such social responsibility.

The ubiquitous computer, as no other machine invention before, has impinged upon the workings of society, for the most part to its benefit. It is necessary for the commonweal that computers be developed in the open, both to accelerate the benefits they may provide and to prohibit their misuse and the stifling of progress.

Societies make laws permitting the existence of corporations and their exclusive exploitation of inventions and intellectual property, not for the benefit of a clever elite, but for the common good. Monopolistic practices may be tempered by restrictions when they become antithetical to social welfare. The current state of computer software suggests that such change is needed.

We, as citizens, can bring about necessary changes through political action aided by open discourse and the publication of ideas.

—David E. Baker debaker@pacbell.net