Letters to the Editor

Readers sound off.
Response to LTE in February

I felt compelled to respond to a letter submitted by David Briars to the Linux Journal editor in the February 1999 issue. I applaud David for being relatively informed on the issues of security. Yet I am disappointed at the solution that he devised. Of course, a properly configured Linux box is a safe house in regards to people breaking in. I emphasize properly because a default Red Hat 5.2 Linux install is extremely insecure from some of the default services running. I found out the hard way that somewhere between the included POP2, POP3 and IMAP services and the way they are configured, a significant security threat exists. I had a Linux machine on the network, accessible by the Internet for web services, and I noticed an IRC bot running illegally. All this from the most secure operating system available, in my opinion.

I learned not to blame the operating system, but to go to the source. Windows 9x is not insecure by default. Faulty applications (earlier versions of Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc.), malicious programming such as Back Orifice, or perhaps enabling File and Print Sharing for a personal home network but not removing the binding to the dial-up connection are examples of how a good thing goes bad.

Don't be so quick to blame the OS; be informed and stay on top of the game. As long as a human creates the code, a human can break it.

—James W. Radtke james.w.radtke@uwrf.edu

Non-X-Based Office Suite

Regarding the “Best of Technical Support” letter in issue 58, a non-X-based office suite called Cliq is available from Quadratron. Look at http://www.quad.com/linux.htm.

—George Toft LinuxAdvocate@iname.com

On-line Only Articles

You recently began having articles which are available only on-line. Could you please tell me the reasoning? I find it very annoying because I do not always get a chance or even remember to come look at the site when the next issue is available to see what you have left out of the magazine. Some of these articles are excellent and I don't see why they are not included in the magazine.

It is especially annoying as I receive my copy of the magazine about a month after it is available and so your site is usually showing a couple of issues ahead of what I am reading. Thanks.

—Sean Preston spreston@icon.co.za

We added this feature to our web site because we are very fortunate in having an excess of articles for each issue. We think they are excellent too and do not want them to go to waste because a particular issue has no space for them. If we hold on to them too long while waiting for space, they can become dated. All of these articles are listed in the magazine's Contents, so there is no need to look at the site to see “what we left out”. Also, since the Contents is put on the web site about three weeks before the magazine is shipped, these articles are available for your perusal in advance. I hope you will come to see this as an asset rather than an annoyance —Editor

Grace Hopper's Computer Bug

The January issue's article on women in technology repeats a persistent myth about Grace Hopper coining the term “bug”. Hopper herself was not present when the moth was removed from Harvard University's Mark II computer in 1947 and “First actual case of bug being found” entered in the log book. The term was popularized by Hopper's telling of the story, but was in use before then, as Hopper herself noted, and as the log entry makes clear. It was used as far back as the end of the last century, applied then to electrical equipment.

—Niall Kennedy nkennedy@acm.org

Re: Red Hat Phenomenon

In his letter in the March 1999 Linux Journal, Reilly Burke states that Red Hat “is unconventional in layout, difficult to install, extremely difficult to reconfigure and deficient in basic tools. The worst problem is that Red Hat requires extensive editing of C source code and rebuilding of the kernel.”

I use Red Hat Linux every day at home and work and have installed it on several machines, both Intel and Alpha-based. I don't understand Mr. Burke's complaints. While I don't have much experience with non-Red Hat flavors of Linux, I have installed and used several other operating systems, and I find Red Hat Linux easier to install than most. The base distribution contains almost every tool I have ever needed and I've never had to do extensive editing of C source. However, I have needed to recompile my kernel a few times and have had a few configuration problems, mainly due to lack of knowledge.

While Red Hat Linux does have a few warts, especially on my Alpha system, I do not agree with Mr. Burke's objections. Thank you.

—Richard Griswold richard@home.com