Letters to the Editor

Readers sound off.
In Response to Debian 2.2 Potato: Memorial to a Hacker

Who writes your “THE GOOD/THE BAD” box? Couldn't (s)he at least read the article this is supposed to summarize? For example, the article tells us how much better the install has gotten, and the box says “The worst install ever”. Hello? Anybody at home there?

Hmm. What does “kernel 2.4.0test8” do in a “Hardware Profile”? And why is it mentioned at all? Nothing in the rest of the article talks about that, and there's certainly no such pre-alpha kernel in the distribution.

I see that “several packages are in need of updating”, but no specific package is mentioned. Somehow, I'm not particularly surprised.

Now this is truely offensive. If you had bothered to actually look, you'd have noticed that none of the compatibility libraries are needed for Debian-compiled programs: they're there for compatibility with foreign binaries. There's even support for compiling to old libraries for people who need that, though libc5 support may finally vanish in the next version unless our users tell us that they really want us to retain it.

“There is a plan to remove the boot floppy altogether from future distributions”. Nope, no such plan. There is a plan to replace the installer on those floppies with a modularized version.

“Debians package management system is also incredibly cryptic.” Hmm, well, what I've seen of rpm so far certainly didn't impress me as any less cryptic, and though most Debian developers agree dselect needs replacement with something more modern, I've seen users praise it more than once. Of course, that's all personal opinion, but my impression is that a number of people only find the stuff cryptic because they were told to expect it to be cryptic. Personally, I think a typical Windows-like GUI installer is horribly cryptic.

“...a URI, which is similar to an URL”. Ouch. Short tutorial follows: A URI (Universal Resource Identifier) can be either a URN (Universal Resource Name) or a URL (Universal Resource Locator). It's a URN if it's “stable forever”, such as urn:isbn:0-345-38851-8; it's a URL if it tells you how to find the named resource, such as http://www.linuxjournal.com/. It can be both.

You know there's a saying that one should judge publications by how they talk about a subject one is familiar with? By that measure, this issue makes for a pretty steep drop in credibility. OTOH, I've seen better articles before, so I'll just chalk this one up to a sort of one-off.

—MfG Kaikaih@khms.westfalen.de

Retro Linux

Don Marti's “Building the Ultimate Linux Workstation” brings back fond memories of a similar article about 17 years back. “80 Micro” ran a feature comparing a couple of custom-built screamers. At about $3,000 apiece, I could only dream about buying one of those state-of-the-art machines.

Those blazing hot TRS-80 Model-III-compatible systems boasted an unbelievably fast 5MHz Z80B CPU, 128K of bank-switched RAM (the Z80 had the on-chip hardware to address only 64K), and get this, a 5 Meg hard drive, enough to store most people's entire collection of floppies. Eat your heart out, fellas.

Those folks lucky enough to have one of these rockets stored in their attic need to start putting the pressure on for porting the kernel to the Z80 chip. For that matter, there is a shameful lack of drivers for such critically important legacy hardware as the Friden Flexowriter, magnetic core memory, reel-to-reel tape drives, the KSR-33 teletype terminal and the paper tape reader/punch (much better to save cartons of punched tape than all those tacky CDRs). Hey, get on the stick, Linus. We want retro-Linux and we want it now!

—Mendel Cooperthegrendel@theriver.com

Exploiting Explorer

Upon opening the November, 2000 issue of Linux Journal to page 199, I almost fell out of my chair. Linux Journal, the premier magazine for the Linux community, had an advertisement (for Axis Communications) with a screen shot of a Microsoft Internet Explorer window. Is it really so much about the mighty dollar that you have no restrictions as to the content of your advertisers' ads? At a minimum, you could have made it look like a Netscape window. I truly enjoy Linux Journal, and usually read it in its entirety, on the same day it is delivered. The last thing I want to see is an advertisement for a product (that runs on just about any platform) being depicted running in the Windows environment.

Thanks for a great magazine,

—Jerry Readjerry@jread.net