Love That Aass

As a longtime subscriber of Linux Journal I have noticed the beer contest, and I have also noticed that Linux writers often make their own beers. I visited the USA in 1998 and 1999 because our son was then an employee of Intel in Portland, Oregon (now at RealNetworks in Seattle). In Portland, we visited the Brewers Festival, a great happening. My favorite USA beers were India Pale Ale from Bridgeport and Full Sail from Full Sail Brewing Company. We also visited the Full Sail Brewing Company in Hood River, Oregon.

Here in Norway, I prefer Norwegian beer from Aass brewery, and last year I discovered a new beer from this brewery, with Penguins on the aluminum can. Here in Norway we call these beer cans boxes (Norwegian: boks). My favourite beer therefore is a Linux box! So are my computers too.

With my Pine mail program and my ISDN internet connection, I will try to send you, as an attachment, my Nikon Coolpix 950 digital image of the Aass Ice beer can. The name Ice Beer and the Penguin logo comes from fermentation with very low temperature I do not believe that the brewery has a specific interest in the penguin as a Linux logo, but I like both Linux and this excellent Ice Beer, so here are the penguins, for Linux Journal.

—Per Lillevold, Norway

Where Did YOU Go?

Not sure which version of SuSE you were using for your article [see Mick Bauer's “Staying Current without Going Insane” in the July 2002 issue of LJ], but with version 8.0, SuSE has changed things a bit. Best I can figure, YOU (YaST Online Update) will only check, recommend and update packages that fall into the category of security or critical updates. With older versions, YaST (the predecessor of YaST2) did have a mode that was capable of updating other packages. This has been removed as of SuSE 8.0, and there has been nothing that I'm aware of that was fixed to allow YOU to perform that function. There are a lot of users who have voiced their displeasure with this, and it is not clear if this was done intentionally, or if it was an oversight. I've been pretty pleased with SuSE since version 5.3, but I think there are a couple of weak areas with 8.0. I still give them the benefit of the doubt, though.

After coming to the realization that YOU wasn't gonna get things done for me, I found that there is another project (a re-port of apt adapted to support SuSE RPMs) afoot that is in fairly early stages, but appears to work pretty well. I'm still figuring it out, but it does allow me to keep KDE 3.0 up to date pretty easily. Apt4rpm works for SuSE versions 7.3 and 8.0. (See these related links: sourceforge.net/projects/apt4rpm and linux01.gwdg.de/apt4rpm/.)

—Kevin Vosburgh

Mick replies: Sad to say (?) I'm not running SuSE 8.0 yet. My SuSE systems are still on 7.1, so that was the version I covered in the article. Sorry for any confusion or inconvenience this may have caused you. Truth be told, I avoid “dot-0” releases because they tend to be, shall we say, “unripe”. SuSE's “oversight” with regard to security vs. general updates in YaST2 is a case in point. (At least I hope it is. If it was a design decision, I would personally consider it to be a cynical one: as I noted in the article, stability can have security ramifications, and even when it doesn't, providing bug fixes regardless of security relevance is, or at least should be, an obligation of Linux packagers.) Anyhow, on behalf of both myself and Paranoid Penguin readers, thanks very much for the clarification and the tip about Apt4rpm!

Thanks Charles

Thank you, Charles Curley, for telling us about “Emacs: the Free Software IDE” [see LJ, June 2002]. With the limited print “real estate” you did a great job. I wanted you to be aware of how others have extended Emacs deep into the IDE world.

My first comment pertains to using the Emacs spell checker private dictionary. I was responsible for a Software Design Document on a military project. Because all our developers wrote code using Emacs, we adopted a standard abbreviations list, and after merging it with our vendor/military standards list we set it up as our common private dictionary. We used the Emacs spell checker to flag misspellings or nonstandard abbreviations or military/vendor terminology.

My other two comments relate to GDB. In software development, testing is important. I found the GDB user-defined functions with parameter-passing capability to be very powerful. I have literally created test verification documents of my software's results using Emacs and GDB. Also, in my line of work: real-time software and basic 2-D plots of data vs. time are always important. I wrote a simple Emacs macro to transform GDB output into a tabular file suitable as input to gnuplot. Thus, I get quality plotting of results while running my software via GDB within Emacs. Yes, many software development tasks are doable using Emacs.

—Harry Rockefeller