Letters to the Editor
I work as a journalist for the Slovak magazine PCRevue, so typing articles in my native language is very important for me. On page four (describing the cover) of the 3/99 issue of LJ, you stated that Linux is truly an international OS. A true statement, but just partially.
Stephan Kulow, Mathias Elter and I along with many translators from around the world want to make the KDE environment internationalized. It works fine for us; we have menu items, and I can write ISO-8859-2 characters to this localized Kmail window with no problems. KDE was the first desktop environment in Slovakia, translated to our language (Windows 95 was not translated; they just did Windows 98). This is one area in which we are a step ahead. GNOME, CDE and other desktop systems for UNIX have not been translated.
Also, the developers of (mainly) commercial software don't handle I18N properly, so we must use wrappers for libX11 done by Stano Meduna, et al. We have some patches that would help I18N in XFree, for example, but XFree development isn't truly open—no reply, no help. No truly usable office software is available under Linux for our language. For example, Star Office from Star Division doesn't initialize I18N properly. With wrappers, it works partially, but when importing MS Word 97 documents, it won't change the encoding from Windows-1250 to ISO-8859-2, so I am displaying Windows-1250 with ISO-8859-2 fonts. Export of HTML is done via that ugly 7-bit convention. Surprisingly, not all characters are working like this (e.g., l-acute works only in some browsers and doesn't get exported correctly). WordPerfect took care in providing I18N support, but it also uses the 7-bit convention for HTML export and cannot import other HTML encodings (like Unicode). The import/export of Word works fine, but it is not perfect. The t-acute and l-acute characters are changed for question marks; l-acute is probably used only in our language, but programmers should think about it.
I am looking for Koffice or some open-source office package which I could fix to use I18N correctly, or a commercial company that fixes its errors fast, responds to users and takes care about their products. We have found, for example, that Red Hat is such a company. They have incorporated Stano's patches for X and our key maps into the distribution along with character sets and other things to help I18N. But they don't make an office suite.
—Juraj Bednar firstname.lastname@example.org
Two possible solutions to the weird rules of the Post Office are: print the TOC in the previous or following month's magazine, or publish the TOC on your web site.
—Alan Rocker email@example.com
As a matter of fact, we do publish the TOC on-line. See http://www.linuxjournal.com/issue57/lstoc.html for both the TOC and all the articles —Editor
Ah, you just robbed me of all the fun of making my own searchable index of LJ issues. Your service at http://interactive.linuxjournal.com/ just found the article I needed.
Thank you for a very useful on-line service, and of course, the indispensable Linux Journal.
—Rolf Magnus Nilsen firstname.lastname@example.org
I always take the “Best of Technical Support” column with a grain of salt, since it is user opinions based on no investigation of the specific situation. However, one in March was kind of appalling. Luis Cardenas asked if PCI modems would work with Linux. You published a response by Mario Bittencourt that was a very nice, concise guide to making ISA modems work with 2.0.x or older kernels.
Unfortunately, the advice is not at all applicable to PCI modems and could very well lead people to go out and purchase such modems, only to find they won't work on Linux.
Further, the advice is only good for older kernels which still support the deprecated /dev/cua# devices. It has been considered bad practice to use these devices for some time, and in the current kernel they don't exist anymore.
—Shawn McMahon email@example.com
Yes, you are correct—PCI modems are basically Windows only. We should have caught that, sorry —Editor
I am writing to let you know of a recent hardware company's exceptional support to the GNU/Linux community and the GPL.
The Advanced Linux Sound Architecture project (http://alsa.jcu.cz/) is a project designed to build an architecture for pro-quality sound and MIDI applications, from low-level drivers for sound and MIDI hardware to high-level libraries and sequencers. The project is committed to releasing all work under the GPL.
As you may know, many sound card manufacturers are reluctant to give any technical help, and even some of those that offer help require non-disclosure agreements, which exclude the possibility of released source. We have blacklisted some companies (http://alsa.jcu.cz/black.html) which have either refused to release information or have decided to release binary-only drivers, which ALSA will not use.
Trident (http://www.tridentmicro.com/) recently contacted the ALSA developer mailing list, having written their own drivers for their 4DWave chip set for ALSA, and offering the source for the drivers. They graciously allowed all of it to be put under the GPL, including technical documents.
I am hoping to drum up support for their hardware in order for the community to demonstrate how cooperation of this sort can aid sales. Maybe this will convince more companies to follow.
Their chip set is used in the following products. If GNU/Linux users are looking towards purchasing a sound card, perhaps they would consider some of the following, since these cards are well-supported under ALSA.
Union Miss Melody 4DWave PCI
ONSpeed 4DWave PCI
SoundVision (model SV 750)
True Sound 4Dwave
WaveAudio Interactive (Model AWT4DX)
You can read more about ALSA and the call to sound card manufacturers at http://alsa.jcu.cz/call.html/.
—Thomas Hudson firstname.lastname@example.org