Best of Technical Support

Our experts answer your technical questions.
Cron Job without Mail from cron

I have a crontab running every ten minutes that does a two-packet ping to keep my network connection alive (why? it's a long story).

The problem I'm faced with is the number of e-mail notifications telling me that the command ran successfully. Is there a way to turn that feature off so that I'm not notified? This generates 144 e-mails/day.

—Scott A. Morrison Markham,

Sure, use this in your /etc/crontab instead.

ping -c 1 target &>/dev/null

—Marc Merlin,

Telnet Doesn't Work? Good.

Hi, I am using Mandrake 7.1. After the installation I am unable to Telnet or FTP to my local machine.

telnet localhost<
  telnet:Error message—unable to connect to
         remote host: connection refused


Teaching people how to set up Telnet or ftp servers is irresponsible, so we won't do it. Shred your dusty old no-sense-of-security Internet books that explain these two insecure protocols (don't give them to a library; a kid might see them) and install ssh. Most distributions have easy-to-install ssh packages now. If you need to log in to your Linux box from non-Linux clients, check Rick Moen's canonical list of ssh software at:

—Don Marti,

Need SMP kernel

Do you know if there is a kernel available that supports multiple CPUs? I am using a dual PII 300 but only one of the CPUs is recognized.

—Crist Besore,

You should configure the kernel to enable SMP support:

cd /usr/src/linux
make menuconfig

Select “Processor type and feature” then select “Symmetric multi-processor support”.

—Pierre Ficheux,

Configuring a Sound Card

I have read all of the README, FAQ and HOW_TO references on configuring a sound card but still am confused as to whether this is a necessity that requires rebuilding the kernel (which I have never done and am a bit nervous about). I detect a SB 3.01 card when I boot but then get an error message about the card being several years old or needing to be reconfigured. Would it be easier for me to go out and purchase a Linux-friendly card?

—Greg McNichol,

That depends on your card. If it's an ISA-based sound card, it is probably not going to work well unless it's one of the more popular cards, such as a SoundBlaster (NOT a SoundBlaster-compatible). But if it's PCI, you shouldn't be getting that message. In general, most PCI devices should be expected to work with Linux at this point. There are rare exceptions, but they are usually in the area of SCSI and network cards. One thing you should make sure is that there isn't another driver made specifically for your card, because the first driver that THINKS it knows what it's doing is allowed to control a device. This may be bad if your card isn't actually a SoundBlaster or clone, but the driver thinks it is. You can do this by rebuilding your kernel and looking through the sound card options, seeing if any matches it.

—Chad R. Robinson,

Linux on IBM A20p?

I'm a laptop user with an IBM A20p. I can't seem to find any documentation on the Web about installing Linux on my notebook. I hope you can provide me with some aid. Most importantly, I would like to know about the problems I will be facing, like hardware, config, etc. Any help in any form will be greatly appreciated.

—Mikael Koh,

There is an install page for your laptop here:

—Marc Merlin,

This laptop has been certified by LinuxCare to run well with SuSE 6.4. You can find more information at: and

—Paul Christensen,