Readers sound off.
Happy Chinese New Year, Tux

Thought you might be interested in this picture I took across from the main train station in Taipei, Taiwan. It is a very large Linux penguin, dressed up for Chinese New Year. I just finished up with Apricot (the Asian networking conference), and Linux had a large presence in the IPv6 appliances on display, as well as the research being presented. The research lab I work in has many Linux systems. The software engineers do most of their work on Linux and FreeBSD.

—Van Emery

Debit on the Left, Credit on the Right

I just read the article “Linux for a Small Business” by Gary Maxwell [LJ, April 2003]. He states that when you pay for a book, you debit your cash account and credit your expense account. I believe it should be the other way around. In accounting, debit refers to the left side of a T-account and credit refers to the right side of a T-account. The words are of Latin derivation meaning left and right. They don't mean decrease or increase. Depending on the type of account, a debit can either increase it or decrease it. The same applies to credits. I think this is probably the source of most non-accountants' confusion about double-entry accounting.


Network Desktop Advice

Thanks for the great article listing rdesktop, Marcel [Cooking with Linux, LJ, April 2003]. In a heterogeneous environment, rdesktop works nicely for getting to Windows machines. I have also found tsclient (www.gnomepro.com/tsclient), a GNOME 2 front end to rdesktop that looks and acts exactly like the Windows Terminal Services client. For those of us who must work in this environment, it helps things a little bit.


MST Helps Brazil's Poor

To Jon “maddog” Hall: I am Brazilian and would like to let you know that I agree with your response to Bruno Trevisan's letter about the “Landless Workers' Movement”, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) [LJ, February 2003]. I sincerely thank you for bringing out the facts. MST is addressing the very basic needs of landless people in Brazil in a conscious, organized and effective way. MST has shown results—tons of results. The land issue in Brazil is a serious one, and Trevisan's statements show a total lack of respect toward people in need of basic things, people in poverty, people that die from hunger. Former President Cardoso never had his farm destroyed. The Brazilian army was always securing his properties because of the lack of response of local police. A few years ago, in the Brazilian state of Para, in the Amazon region, the state police cowardly murdered dozens of rural workers. It took a very long time to bring the police officers to trial. A few years ago, in the state of S. Paulo, the state police invaded a prison and murdered 111 prisoners. Again, it took a very long time to put the responsible ones on trial.

—Nuno Vasconcellos

“Wardialing” in 1979

The term wardialing was in use in 1979-80. It was used to describe either linear or random dialing of phone numbers and keeping tabs on the modem carrier detects (CDs) received. Wardialing also was used interchangeably to signify using those numbers, getting the codes from the long-distance carriers, or if you were lucky, a PBX connect to trunk calls and make party lines. Nothing too intelligent, just brute force. Not that I ever did any of that. I think the term war was that you were at “war” with the phone company doing this. Think of it as carpet bombing the telco switch. Eventually, you'll hit something. There were a lot of turf wars like they have now, and essentially, the biggest “list” wins. The movie Wargames (1983) had nothing to do with it whatsoever.


GNOME 2 Drops Features of Version 1

I disagree strongly with your description of GNOME 2 as “an excellent choice for first-time and nontechnical users” [“The GNOME 2 Desktop Environment”, LJ, April 2003]. I used GNOME 1 and persuaded my wife to use it too, but when I installed Red Hat 8 with GNOME 2 we found things had gone backward.

Under GNOME 1, with the Sawfish window manager, I set up all sorts of keyboard shortcuts. This was reasonably easy. There was a decent keyboard shortcuts tool, which allowed you to set the context (global, window, title) and then set shortcuts like Alt-MOUSE3, etc., with a long list of commands to assign them to. Now under GNOME 2, I find a very primitive “keyboard shortcuts editor” that offers a much smaller number of predefined commands and does not allow you to specify the context. Why adopt a worse new window manager without offering the choice of keeping the old one?

We wanted to have some programs run on GNOME startup. I looked in the menus for something like “startup”. It took ages: I finally found the required functionality in a program that runs when you click on Extras-->Preferences-->Sessions. Well hidden!

My wife found GNOME 2 unusable and unfriendly. I found it shockingly weak on everyday functionality, compared with GNOME 1. Overall, the point of a desktop is to make the computer more usable, but I see no sign of any user-sensitivity in the GNOME desktop. It feels like a half-baked programming project, not a user-oriented functional tool.

—Dr Mark Alford