Letters

Letters

Zippy Linux?

I am very interested in your approach of installing Linux on an Iomega Zip 250MB drive for parallel ports [“Maragda: Running Linux from a CD” by Jordi Bataller, LJ March 2001]. I notice you were successful and wonder if you care to share your knowledge in this area. The PCs in our lab have internal 100MB IDE zip drives. Thank you for your great article and any assistance you can provide.

—David Cooper

Jordi replies: Running a Linux distribution installed on an Iomega Zip disk works and is usable, but it is slow compared to other solutions. The basics to make it work are the same as in the CD-ROM case, but you need a floppy (1.44) disk to boot it. Besides the slow speed, capacity is another drawback. I used a 250MB disk and still have to cut down the contents. There are other solutions available: running it from a CD-ROM (see www.iti.upv.es/~maragda) and using a parallel box enclosing a common IDE hard disk. This is a box connected to the parallel port, which interfaces a standard IDE hard disk. I used this solution for over a year with no problems (of course it is a bit slower). It is easy to create and the only problem is developing a bootable floppy disk. The installation is trivial; I connected the disk directly to the IDE bus. Once Linux is installed you remove the disk from the bus and put it into the box. It is cheap, since you can reuse old IDE disks and probably can find boxes for $60-$80 US. There are also other types of box adaptors. I'm waiting for an IDE-to-USB box; well I'm waiting for the developers of the Linux kernel USB support to patch some bugs.

One Cool Guy

I'd like to say that I enjoyed the January 2002 issue of Linux Journal, especially your interview with Guy F. de Téramond, Costa Rica's Minister of Science and Technology. This was the first time I have read your magazine (I picked it up initially due to the networking articles), and you can be sure that it won't be the last if this issue was any indication of its quality and breadth of coverage.

—Marc Rosenthal

Scalable Clairvoyance

Wow, have you got Cleo working there or what? I made an appointment with my new ISP for wireless 802.11 access in the morning, and the February LJ arrived later that day. Well done!

—Dave Moulton

Garage Comments

In “The Perspective from My Garage” [Linux for Suits, LJ February 2002], Doc Searls ends his review of misguided prognostications with a July 1976 ad for the Altair 8800 in Popular Electronics. True, this early microcomputer did not succeed. But it was at the center of a significant milestone in the development of the personal computer—a milestone that will impact the growth of Linux for years to come. The Altair 8800 was chosen by two young Harvard University students as the platform for the first microcomputer, Basic interpreter. The older of the two, Paul Allen, simulated the Altair instruction set on a DEC PDP-20 and was pleasantly surprised when his interpreter, stored on paper tape, actually worked when he brought it to MITS in Albuquerque. He and his younger colleague thereby were able to start a software company. Mr. Allen eventually left the company, but his partner, Bill Gates, has become the wealthiest man in the world from that company, Microsoft. (Mr. Allen is not far behind.)

—Jay Braun

Mozilla Corrective

There is a small mistake in the February 2002 issue of Linux Journal. The Tech Tip on page 88 states that you can specify a minimum font size for Mozilla with:

user_pref(font.minimum-size.x-western, 13);

On my system (running Mozilla 0.9.7) I need to place quotes around the first argument:

user_pref("font.minimum-size.x-western", 13);
Otherwise, I get the following error:
An error occurred reading the startup
configuration file. Please contact
your administrator. ReferenceError:
font is not defined.
By the way, thank you for an excellent issue of LJ. It's my favorite one yet!

—Mike Voytovich

Sophomoric?

The article “Using Debian Apt-get over Freenet” in the February 2002 issue of LJ was interesting and informative. Although there are reasons to claim dpkg/apt is more sophisticated than RPM, the statement, “Get a real package manager!” is sophomoric enough to have pleased the Maximum Linux bunch (whatever actual and useful information they may have provided—RIP).

—Ken

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