Letters to the Editor

Readers sound off.
Red Hat Paranoia

I have seen several letters regarding fear of Red Hat taking over the Linux market. I feel compelled to point out a few important points regarding Red Hat:

One, Red Hat Linux is GPL, which means they cannot squeeze out any distribution of Linux by introducing proprietary system components. An excellent example is the RPM system; anyone can incorporate a Red Hat package manager into their system, and this is encouraged by Red Hat. Intel's investment in Red Hat will be beneficial to all Linux users and distributions.

Two, Red Hat is not out to crush competition. Red Hat software has been used as the basis for new distributions such as Linux-PRO. Anyone can freely download, use, modify, sell and incorporate their work.

Three, Red Hat embraces new technologies, such as glibc, before other commercial distributions. This may make certain programs which use these technologies incompatible with other distributions, but this isn't the fault of Red Hat. Other distributions are just slower to adopt these non-proprietary technologies.

Four, Red Hat isn't significantly harder to configure than other Linux distributions. Everything is hard until you know how to do it.

Five, no one forces anyone to use Red Hat. No one even tries to do so.

I have had experience with Red Hat, SuSE, Caldera and Slackware; I see strengths and weaknesses in each. Red Hat is not my favorite distribution. However, it bothers me to see people criticizing Red Hat and comparing them to Microsoft when to me most of these criticisms are unwarranted.

—Michael O'Brien mobrien@unm.edu

gawk 3.1

I read Juergen Kahrs' excellent article in the April 1999 issue, “Network Administration with AWK”, on using gawk to access live net connections as files. Now I am watching for the announcement of gawk 3.1, which has the network features.

This article advertises gawk's net functions as a Swiss Army knife for network administration, and one can easily see how it would help with network monitoring, housekeeping, security and optimization. Also hinted at in the article and dealt with in more detail at home.t-online.de/home/Juergen.Kahrs are many other selling points for gawk's net functions, such as learning and prototyping artificial intelligence, agents and web server functions.

It would be ideal if gawk was using callbacks internally rather than looping to wait for activity. Is this what is meant by the term “non-blocking read”? I would think wrappers of other languages or mere shell functions might work for gawk 3.1's missing features of broadcasting, non-blocking read, timeout and forking server processes. Thanks.

—Bob recbo@erols.com

DOSEMU and Wine

Although I am a new user of Linux, I have noticed a tendency to either make applications that communicate well with Windows or use emulators to run DOS-native programs. This seems to contradict the philosophy behind Linux, to create a free operating system. With the superior file system of Linux, why would people want to run DOS or Windows programs? Some program managers have gone so far as to use a Windows 9x-style toolbar. I think programmers should be more original in program design.

—Matthew Stapleton bifflinux@juno.com

At present, this is a Windows world, so good communication between Linux and Windows is a must. Many Windows and DOS applications are not available for Linux, so fans of those programs want emulators such as DOSEMU and Wine. Those same people want their desktop to look familiar, so developers tend to provide managers with which the user will be comfortable rather than developing a completely new design —Editor

Music and Linux

Great magazine! I'm a newcomer to Linux and it was quite amazing to browse the magazine stand and find a non-Microsoft/Apple-based magazine. I really enjoyed the interview with John Ousterhout and the reviews. If I might make one request, though: in all the documentation I've found, there's little to no mention of the sound manipulation capabilities of Linux systems. I'm a musician and have used quite a few good programs on the Windows platform, but I can't seem to find anything similar on Linux. If you could print an article on this subject, it would be greatly appreciated by at least one person.

—Matt Nelson mnelson@nelcomail.com

A very good article on Linux and sound can be found in our February 1999 issue: “Csound for Linux” by David Phillips. Also, back in September 1998, we had a review of a music publisher called MUP by Bob van der Poel —Editor

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