Readers sound off.


More Small-Business Articles, Please

LJ has published several articles on the use of Linux in Hollywood and its adoption by large corporations. I would like to see how many small businesses, like mine, run on open-source software. I've been using Linux for the past five years and switched one of my associates to it at the time. How many more like me are out here in the real world? I think there are quite a few, and it would be nice to see the numbers publicized.


Show Me the Money

Even though I agree with the Open Source movement for operating systems, as it creates a standardized solid foundation for further software development, what is the purpose of extending it to other genres of software? One thing I have noticed people fail to mention about the Open Source movement is how do the programmers get paid? I am a university student who eventually wants to design software for a living. What's the point of learning extremely complex technology if somebody is willing to make it for free in his or her spare time? It's like asking an electrical engineer to develop the electrical system for a public building for free because it benefits the public. How are software engineers going to survive out there if they're killing themselves with open source? Our job is not easy; it requires a high-level understanding of mathematics and logic and takes years to learn. Why should we do it for free?

M. Shah

Doc Searls says the software industry is growing up and becoming more like the construction business. The engineer gets paid for his work, but the building owner doesn't have to pay for a $99 client access license for everyone who walks in the building. In mature industries, customers expect to be able to hire Vendor B to fix something if Vendor A doesn't work out. If you want to make a living in software in the long run, you'll have to fulfill those expectations. You might want to read Secrets of the Wholly Grill: A Novel about Cravings, Barbecue, and Software by Lawrence G. Townsend. To get an idea of what it's about, imagine applying some one-sided restrictions from proprietary software licenses to products you might buy at the supermarket. —Ed.

Speed Up Red Hat 9

Kudos on another excellent and informative issue [LJ, August 2003]. I found the “Eleven SSH Tricks” article particularly useful. I am writing to comment on Marco Fioretti's review of Red Hat 9, beginning on page 90. It noted excessive startup time for the desktop and OpenOffice. This is a result of Red Hat's conservatism with regards to default system settings. There is a configuration file, /etc/sysconfig/harddrives, that can fix this. It contains the settings to enable DMA mode, multisector I/O, look-ahead functionality and other goodies for modern, fast hard drives. Enable those settings, and you will find that Red Hat 9 is quite speedy indeed.

J. Mark Brooks

Ada Isn't Awful

In the August 2003 Letters to the Editor section, Donald Daniel states that “Pascal inspired Ada, which was awful.” Ada was inspired by a need for a good programming language, and it fulfills that need very well. I have yet to meet an Ada basher who really knows the language.

The letter titled “Fighting C++ Rumors” actually confirms the fact that compiled C++ libraries are incompatible with one another. To say that this problem will soon be a thing of the past doesn't cut it; I've been waiting 20 years! For other compatibility issues, get a copy of C++ Primer Plus by Stephen Prata and look for the highlighted compatibility notes. Or, stop waiting, move to Ada and don't bash it until you know it. If developers want to make an educated decision as to what language should be used, read my article in CrossTalk magazine at www.stsc.hill.af.mil/crosstalk/2003/02/index.html.

Dennis Ludwig

Thanks for the Backup Hint

Just got the August 2003 issue, the tip on piping binary data to a remote shell was exactly what I needed to back up my somewhat over-full iBook. Great.

Ken Moffat

Mr. Smith, LDAP Won't Let Us Hire You

Mick Bauer's LDAP articles have been fairly well written, but I have a couple of issues with Part III [LJ, September 2003]. There are, of course, the broken DNs on page 32, which are easy enough to spot if one reads the whole article; the DNs later on are fine. However, they lead into one of the most problematic situations I've seen in the directory business. I'll call this situation John Smith.

We have 24 John Smiths working for our company. One can add a middle initial, but this is just kludging it. We have five John R Smiths. We could use a middle name; still a kludge. We now have John Ronald Smith, two John R Smiths that refuse to give their middle names and two John Richard Smiths. They're not related, and in fact, are both John Richard Smith III. (This is an actual situation at a company at which I once worked, although the names have been changed.)

Using a unique identifier is considered by many to be the best practice. There's even an attribute for it in the LDAP standard, uid, which is mentioned in another context in Mick's article. This would make one's DNs look like uid=wongfh,ou=engineering,dc=wiremonkeys,dc=org. The only restrictions on uids are that they must be unique to that branch of the tree, and they really should be unique to the LDAP server. It's also a good idea to have a standard on how one makes a uid. The only bad standard I've seen is one that isn't consistently followed, although many groups prefer one never reassigns a uid that once belonged to a deleted entry.

This is a controversial topic; many people, including some of the original LDAP server authors, are rather devoted to cn-based DNs. However, it can cause problems that are easily avoided, for very little cost. I've consulted for a group that uses cn-based DNs on their e-mail server, which accepts DNs as one user name format. Several times a year, they ask me how they can prevent e-mail intended for an ex-employee from going to a new employee with the same name. They always get the same answer. IMHO, it's really about how long you want to endure the pain.

Ed Grimm

Mick Bauer replies: First, I apologize for the typos you pointed out. They were caused by my copying and pasting working code from my test server, and then inconsistently replacing the test server's real domain name with my example domain name. Second, thanks very much for sharing your insights on the “John Smith” problem. You've convinced me that a uid-based naming convention is a much better-scaling approach than a cn-based system. I think the latter works fine for small organizations, but I readily admit that it can't scale as well as the uid approach. This is an excellent illustration of how complicated and subtle LDAP design and administration can be. There are no one-size-fits-all approaches to LDAP.

Refund Struggle Continues

I was wondering what ever became of “The Toshiba Standoff” (/article/6318). It was such a compelling story that I just gotta know if anything ever panned out for Adam Kosmin.

William Totman

Adam struck out, but Steve Oualline got a refund for the unused proprietary OS that came with his laptop. It takes persistence, but it's possible (www.linuxjournal.com/article/7040). —Ed.

Easy Personal Video Recorder

I just read Marcel's article in the September 2003 Linux Journal, taking great notice of the MythTV part. I'm going to have to toot my own horn for just a minute here (well, and some others). With the help of the community, and Axel Thimm, the maintainer of ATrpms and the MythTV RPMs for Red Hat Linux, I've put together a streamlined guide for the creation of your own MythTV system using Red Hat Linux 9. I have the process of creating a full-blown, fully functional MythTV system from bare metal down to two to three hours, but then, I've done it a few times. The process is greatly streamlined by installing nearly every component from RPMs, using apt (pvrhw.goldfish.org/tiki-page.php?pageName=rh9pvr250).

Jarod C. Wilson

Linksys Switches Chipsets

In an article in the September 2003 issue of Linux Journal, actually a Sidebar to the article “Linux Makes Wi-Fi Happen in New York City” entitled “Pebble Linux: Debian for Wi-Fi Access Points” Kurt Starsinic mentions the popular Linksys WPC11 wireless card. As of WPC11 v.4, this card is no longer Linux-compatible. The Prism chipset has been replaced with another, and Linksys technical support will not say if or when Linux drivers will be available. They have even evidently been told not to identify the new chipset: RealTek.

Jeff Simmons

Compatible Wireless Cards?

The September 2003 issue, centering on wireless networks and Linux, was quite enjoyable. However, there was something missing that was sorely needed. There was no mention of what wireless network cards could be used with Linux. The Hardware HOWTO lacks any such supported list as well. After dredging through manufacturer Web sites, such as Adaptec and Linksys, my outlook on converting my current LAN to wireless is not a good one. Can you list what wireless network cards were used in any of the various articles?

Wally Barnes

There's a good card list at seattlewireless.net/?HardwareComparison. You also can check your distribution's hardware compatibility list on the Web. As the previous letter shows, it's hard to keep up with hardware in print. —Ed.

Starting a Community Net

I've been a Linux Journal reader now for around seven years, and my brief stint as a part-time copy editor was something I was proud of and look back on fondly. LJ has been my favorite magazine since I picked up my first issue at a local computer show at the University of Washington in 1996 or 1997. Recently, I bought a Mac, and with it came an offer for a free subscription to MacWorld, which I accepted. Last night, after reading both magazines, I realized exactly why Linux Journal has been my favorite magazine for so long. Where other magazines make me want to buy things, Linux Journal encourages me to try things. Your pages are consistently filled with informative articles about projects, not products. The September 2003 issue's focus on community networks has strengthened my desire to build a free node, and hopefully, a community around it. Thank you for continuing to produce an excellent magazine.

Nathan E. Sandver

Send us the location and ESSID for that community net when you have it up. —Ed.

Yay Phil Hughes, Boo SCO

I've subscribed over the past year and, frankly, was not going to re-up. The reason is simply that I'm just an average guy—a home user and most (but not all) of your articles are over my head. But I've been following the SCO situation, and today I read the Open Letter from SSC to SCO [www.linuxjournal.com/article/7087]. In effect, you guys are fighting for my right to use Linux. Even though I'm not a professional geek, the least I can do is support people that are supporting me (and many, many others) in our ability to use the best OS out there. Expect my renewal in the next couple of days. I wish you all at LJ well.

Michael Presley

More on Automation, Please

I read Tad Truex's article (LJ, September 2003) “Put a Sump Pump on the Web with Embedded Linux” and found the article interesting. I also found myself chuckling over what the broader audience would think of such an idea. That said, in a bigger context, there is the field of industrial automation and electrical engineering that uses SCADA systems for industrial process control. Would it be possible to feature the subject, using Linux and other OSS solutions in a future article, using some of your experts' experience?

Jason Houlihan

SE Linux outside US?

I just picked up the August 2003 issue of LJ, mostly because of the SE Linux article by Russell Coker. After reading it (with much interest) I decided to surf to the NSA site to look at some docs and possibly acquire the downloads concerning SE Linux. Although hardly anything to do with the American government surprises me anymore, I was slightly surprised that access to the site is blocked, probably for non-US based IPs, as I am accessing the site from The Netherlands; all access to the site was blocked even the top-level nsa.gov.

Peter van der Kleut

Try Russell's site at www.coker.com.au/selinux. —Ed.

gwc vs. gramofile

I read with interest Tom Younker's article on converting vinyl LPs to digital formats [LJ, September 2003, page 80]. Recently I have been trying to convert my wife's extensive collection of old Russian LPs to CDs. Initially, I tried using gramofile as described by Mr Younker, but a few months ago I discovered a more recent project called the Gnome Wave Cleaner (gwc.sourceforge.net). I now use this exclusively and find that it is an excellent piece of software.

I believe that the major benefits of gwc over gramofile are: 1) As Mr Younker says, “swig has progressed, but gramofile hasn't.” 2) gwc has a nice GUI interface (gwc.sourceforge.net/main.jpg), whilst gramofile is ncurses based. 3) The click and noise removal algorithms in gwc work very well and are easy to control. As an added bonus, if there is a recalcitrant click that the auto-algorithm can't get a grip on, you can zoom in using the GUI, select the offending millisecond of sound and silence it by hand. It disappears without a trace. I certainly haven't carried out extensive testing of click removal speed and effectiveness, but gwc is fast enough for me, and nearly all clicks are removed. 4) gwc has a sonogram view that is very handy for tracking down the few remaining clicks in a track.

Finally, don't just take my word for it. Read James Tappin's excellent page on ripping 78rpm records (www.tappin.me.uk/Linux/audio.html). He used to recommend the use of gramofile, but he now uses gwc and describes it as “best-of-breed”.

Richard Simpson

Drive This by M. Shah's House, Will You?

Don, attached is a photo of my car with the California LINUX license plate installed. When I first registered for the plate around 1993, it was installed on a rather beat-up 1986 Toyota pickup. As you can see, Linux has helped us grow our business, and the plate has been transferred to a slightly nicer vehicle.

By the way, need a DSL connection from a clueful ISP?

Dane Jasper


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