Letters to the Editor

Readers sound off.
Linux Install on Laptops

I was inspired by the informative article in July's issue by Daniel Graves, in which he described the installation of Linux on an IBM Thinkpad 750. Several months ago, I purchased a Sony VAIO 505 mainly driven by the form and weight factor. One of my first tasks with the machine was to install Linux on it. I have made the chronicle of the task available at www.seanet.com/~scout/linux505.htm for anyone who is interested. I appreciate your publication, as it provides a good balance of topic breadth and depth each month.

—Ted Ipsen scout@seanet.com


Concerning Red Hat 4.2/5.0/5.1/5.2 and Debian 2.0/2.1.... Both Red Hat and Debian used to support libg++-devel, which included some very useful C++ templates. Available documentation at www.debian.org says that libg++-devel will no longer be supported and that libstdc++-devel contains the functionality.

This isn't true! If you compare the contents of libg++-devel and libstdc++-devel, you will notice many files are missing. How can I build my C++ code on a new Red Hat 5.2 machine without having to rewrite all those useful libg++-devel templates myself?

For example, libg++-devel contains g++/String.h, g++/Random.h and g++/Regex.h, while libstdc++-devel does not. Red Hat used to ship with libg++-devel, but doesn't as of version 5.2.

—Steve Durst sdurst@110.net

Floppy Formatting

Occasionally, in “Best of Technical Support”, someone asks about formatting floppies from any directory except root, and the gurus respond that it can't be done. But the following changes work for me with Red Hat 5.1:

chmod 777 /dev
chmod o+w /dev/fd*
chmod 777 /usr/bin/fdformat

Since gurus can't be wrong, what am I missing?

—John C. Burgess burgess@wiliki.eng.hawaii.edu


I have been a Linux user since way back in 1997, and a subscriber to LJ for nearly as long. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your magazine. I learn something useful in every issue—from “Take Command” to “At the Forge” and all the others. Despite what I have read in other letters, I think you are doing a great job of balancing the advanced, technical subjects with those of the novice, intro type.

Last month (#63), I was surprised and delighted to see Linux applied to my old career of archaeology, and this month (#64) I was surprised and delighted to see the spotlight on Linux in my current career in the graphic arts industry! Now, if you can find someone who has successfully integrated Linux and beer-making to write a short article....

Keep the great stuff coming!

—Mike Edwards medwards@ega.com

Standards, Linux Wars, etc.

Troy Davidson (August LJ letters) has been watching too many movies. His Highlands war exists only in his imagination. I've been using Linux for an even shorter time than Troy has, but have quite a different take on MS vs. Linux. Comparing Linux with Windows 9x is like comparing seagulls with the penguin: they are two different birds with different purposes.

Linux is a UNIX clone, and UNIX is a multi-user system. It has important work to do and it is probably not going to expend a lot of effort looking after you. It has many of “you” to look after; so probably, it won't treat you like your nanny, which is precisely what MS Windows sets out to do. Linux in its present form is not for the casual user; it is for the person who wants to master the system in the way that only the availability of source code can provide, and there are many such people out here.

Nobody remains a beginner. As you gain experience, the user-friendly “features” of MS Windows become obstacles. Then you look for a better place to work. It's waiting for you—it's called Linux.

Linux is not ready to take over the desktop, but the server war is over and Windows NT is not the winner. (We have two local ISPs; one on NT, one on Linux. So I have personal experience regarding which one holds up better.) There is no mystery as to why the bedrock under the Internet is UNIX, Linux and FreeBSD. They got there first and offer the most. NT has a following in business intranets—the suits tend to stick together.

Richard Stallman's world of free software is going to prevail, and for a very simple reason: free access to source is going to create an abundance of local experts. When the casual user discovers that one local expert is worth 1000 e-mails to MS support, then Linux will begin to take over the desktop. MS will always have a market; someone has to look after the beginners.

Let us not call for “standards”. We don't need standards. We need more of the same creative anarchy that has got us to where we are. Spend more time reading code, Troy, and less time watching movies.

—Jack Dennon jdennon@seasurf.com