Best of Technical Support

Our experts answer your technical questions.

USB Joystick?

I have a Logitech Wingman Force 3D, a USB joystick with force feedback. I'm running a 2.4.20-20.9 kernel (Red Hat 9) with USB support enabled. Is there a way to make USB joysticks work under Linux? I've done searches on Google and I found a few possible solutions, but none of them worked for me. I do not care so much for the force feedback component, but I would like to be able to make the joystick work.

Pierre Rochefort

USB joysticks should work fine under Linux. To learn how to configure them, see the Linux USB Guide at If you still have questions about USB support, you can ask on the linux-usb-users mailing list.

Greg Kroah-Hartman

According to Johann Deneux's Web page at, he is developing a force-feedback driver for Linux. Complete instructions and downloadable code are provided on this page, so you can test whether this driver works with your device. You might find you need some code compiling and module installation skills, but it may be worth the learning experience. You also might want to try the Linux Input Driver ( or the Linux joystick driver (, which also states that it supports your device.

Felipe Barousse Boué

Configuring a New Network Card

I need to configure my third network card on my Red Hat 6 system to start automatically when the system reboots. How can this be done?


Your Red Hat release is a bit old; I'd suggest you upgrade it because you will get many benefits, such as security, stability and more hardware drivers. Nevertheless, you can try the user-friendly approach by using the netcfg or netconfig utility (from a root shell) and following on-screen instructions and options. Alternatively, you can edit the /etc/modules.conf and the /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-ethX (where X is the net card number) files manually. The modules.conf file names each card and relates that name to the corresponding module (driver) that you need to have in your system. The ifcfg-ethX file is the actual configuration file of the card; there is one of these files per network card. Follow the example of the first file, which must be named ifcfg-eth0. The Ethernet HOWTO contains more information:

Felipe Barousse Boué

Setting Up Wi-Fi Restricted Mode on SuSE

I successfully installed SuSE 9.0 on my laptop, a ThinkPad 600E that uses a Netgear MA401 wireless card. SuSE has detected my card properly, and I have 128-bit encryption enabled and working. The problem is I need to put the card in restricted mode manually to be able to communicate with the access point. Every time I reboot the laptop, I have to su into root and type iwconfig wlan0 key xxxxxxxx restricted to make the card work. I configured the card properly using YaST and included the encryption key, but it always defaults to open mode. Did I miss something here? How can I make iwconfig default to restricted mode?

Kevin Lisciotti

Make a copy of the file /etc/sysconfig/network/ifcfg.template and edit it to set the parameters according to your proper setup. Also, take a look at, which offers more detailed information on this subject.

Felipe Barousse Boué

Red Hat 7.2 and Ethernet Card

I recently installed the Red Hat 7.2 distribution (my first Linux installation) that came with the book Linux Administration for Beginners, which I borrowed from a friend. When I installed Red Hat 7.2, I did not get a network config screen, as was suggested and shown in the book. The installation is supposed to recognize my network or something, but it doesn't. Hence I have been unable to set up my Internet connection, which is key to more resources for learning other than man pages.

I am using a home PC with the following components: Intel 3 500MHz, 256MB of RAM, 20GB WD Caviar IDE and Realtek (also tried it with D-Link card) NIC. I am connected by a cable modem and have no network, although I plan on expanding to two computers soon.

Red Hat 7.2 does not seem to recognize eth0, although there is a constant connection. I have searched and searched for instructions. Most direct me to install drivers from floppies for Realtek, which already appear to come with the distro, but as I said, I am really new to this and have no clue. I am about to go buy Mandrake or Red Hat 9 to see if either proves to be a more useful installation.


Without knowing specific error messages or seeing some log files, it is extremely difficult to guess what is going on with your system. Is your network card okay? Is it properly installed? Does it have any conflicts with other hardware? Instead of buying another Linux distribution, you probably should buy a new network card, one that you know is officially supported. Go to and look for a network card that fits your budget and your system.

Felipe Barousse Boué

To rule out a hardware problem, try your system with Knoppix (, which lets you run a current Linux from CD without installing on your hard drive. You can download and burn Knoppix freely. If the card works under Knoppix, you'll have more fun and have more time to learn administration skills if you upgrade to a more current distribution. For your first Linux distribution, try to select one with which your local user group, or whatever source of support you use, is familiar.

Don Marti

Reconfiguring Wireless Keys for Different Sites

I use Wi-Fi on my laptop (running Red Hat 6.2) at a number of different sites, each one with a different set of encryption keys. It's a hassle to have to edit /etc/pcmcia/config.opts every time. Is there an easier way to manage my keys?

Andreas Meyer

Jean Tourrilhes maintains an extensive list of wireless utilities that do things like manage configurations and monitor signal strength at One of the tools listed is waproamd, which automatically sets up preconfigured WEP keys based on the ESSID of the wireless network you're on ( There are also two simpler ways to deal with this issue, as explained in Felipe's answer and my other answer.

Don Marti

For a poor guy's quick-and-easy way with not much hassle: 1) write a small shell script in /usr/local/bin for each site. Name each wireless-sitename or something similar, list the corresponding appropriate iwconfig and ifconfig commands (including the keys, of course) and set the proper permissions and ownership. Whenever you get to the site, simply run the wireless-sitename script and you should be set. This allows individual turn on/off control of access in each of your preferred network sites.

Felipe Barousse Boué

The way I deal with this kind of thing is to make extra copies of the config file. For example, you can create config.opts.home and, then set up an alias or panel button for cafe to do this:

sudo cp /etc/pcmcia/ \
/etc/pcmcia/config.opts \
&& sudo /etc/rc.d/init.d/pcmcia restart

and an alias or panel button for home to do the same thing with the home version of the file.

Don Marti

Managing Desktop Users and Policies?

I have worked at several businesses that could use the power of Linux on the desktop, but so far I have been reluctant to suggest it. It's not that I don't think it's a superior product or that the relative cost savings are significant. It has to do with the fact that these organizations are not likely to want to replace conventional computers with dumb terminals or low-powered network computers tied to a mainframe or server. Tied into this is the issue of administering 20 machines, 100 machines or 2,000 machines. I have not found anything so far that lets me sit down and look at a domain tree of users and administer polices and profiles. My ignorance may be blatantly clear at this point. I am a Linux user at home, but I am a Windows administrator and like the apparent ease of managing a Windows network. Can you point me in the right direction on this? Maybe I don't understand the vision or current mindset of the community on system administration.

Aaron Sharp

Undoubtedly and disregarding the used technologies, you are talking about a complex network configuration. Many issues come up: user management, password management, directories, e-mail addresses, IP numbers, shared resources and security. Many system administration tools and efforts exist in the Free Software/Open Source community to deal with these issues. One of them that I have used several times is Webmin, Webmin is a powerful and extensible systems management tool; it even allows clustering and remote systems management.

Felipe Barousse Boué

A flexible way to manage user information is with LDAP. Craig Swanson and Matt Lung covered a unified system for shared address books, unified login and shared file storage in the December 2002 issue of Linux Journal (/article/6266). If you like the Webmin interface, you can use Webmin to manage an LDAP database.

Don Marti


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