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Our experts answer your technical questions.
RPM Won't Let Me Upgrade

On a Red Hat system with RPM 4.0.3-1.03, it seems the options --nodeps and --force don't prevent the system from checking dependencies. Therefore, I am not able to update certain packages. For example,

rpm --nodeps --force -Uvh db3-3.2.9-4.i386.rpm

gives the error:

failed dependencies: is needed by pam-0.72-26 is needed by sendmail-8.11.0-8
# rpm --nodeps --force -Uvh pam-0.75-14.i386.rpm
error: failed dependencies:   is needed by pam-0.75-14
My older versions of RPM used to work.

—Yi Zhao,

I usually get rid of this kind of message by upgrading everything in a single RPM call:

rpm -Uvh -force --nodeps pam-0.75-14.i386.rpm
sendmail-XXX db3-3.2.9-4.i386.rpm

—Mario M. Bittencourt Neto,

Checking Both /etc/hosts and DNS

When I try to resolve a name that is not in DNS but is in my /etc/hosts file, nslookup refuses to look at /etc/hosts. I want to look at both /etc/hosts (first) and then dns. My /etc/nsswitch.conf file has this:

"hosts: files [NOTFOUND=continue] dns"

I have a mixed environment of UNIX platforms, and my other UNIX boxes (HP-UX and Sun) work with this configuration. Can you tell me what I am missing with my Linux setup?

—Jim Booker,

nslookup will not look at /etc/hosts; this is normal behavior. The host command will look at both, however. The HP-UX and Sun nslookup command may have been modified to function differently.

—Marc Merlin,

USB Keyboard Stopped Working

I have a Compaq Presario 5000 series PC, on which I've installed a number of different systems, including Red Hat 7.1, from which I'm writing this question. When I attempt to install Red Hat 7.2, I am having a problem getting the installation procedure to accept keyboard input. I have a USB Compaq Internet PC keyboard. Has there been a regression in the installation procedure that causes problems with USB keyboards? If so, is there a workaround?

—Brian W. Masinick,

Try configuring your BIOS to provide “Legacy Keyboard Support”.

—Christopher Wingert,

I see you are using Red Hat, but for those having the same trouble using Mandrake, I have seen reports of Mandrake 8.1 having a file /etc/sysinit/usb that requires the entry KEYBOARD_AT_START=NO in order for Linux to work and function correctly with a USB keyboard.

—Felipe E. Barousse Boué,

SuSE Won't Boot, Red Hat Won't Display

I installed a copy of SuSE, which uses LILO, on my Dell Dimension L866r, and when I boot, I just get a bunch of 0s and 1s flowing over my screen. I installed Red Hat 7.2 and it installed GRUB, which worked. Unfortunately, 7.2 (like all Red Hats from 4.x onward) can't handle my Nokia Multigraph 447x monitor. I sent an e-mail to them, but they didn't respond.

—Jim Macdonald,

I think the simplest thing to do would be to use Red Hat 7.2 and set up the monitor modes manually. The mode information for your monitor is located at

—Christopher Wingert,

Chances are that LILO is having a BIOS geometry problem. Do you have your BIOS set to some sort of geometry translation? Usually this is called large disk support, or LBA mode. This will bring the number of cylinders down to a lower number (hopefully below 1,024 cylinders) and allow LILO to see the whole disk. If this isn't possible, make sure that the partition on which your kernel gets installed (/ or /boot depending on the distribution) is all contained below 1,024 cylinders. This error also may mean that LILO interpreted your disk geometry incorrectly. You may have to tell LILO what your real geometry is, or you may need to give LILO the “linear” option. Look at section 2.2 at for more information.

—David Brown,

The page has a link to an /etc/X11/XF86Config file running with a Nokia Multigraph 447X as yours.

—Felipe E. Barousse Boué,