Letters

Readers sound off.

Letters

Wireless Questions

I have been reading LJ for a few years now, and I am amazed at the transformation of the articles and content. I especially like Robin Rowe's articles about technology in the movie industry. He tends to have a lot of inside info about DreamWorks and ILM that I find interesting. Please keep these articles coming. Marcel gives some great tips for newbies and casual experimenters, which I appreciate, and I think the French theme is orginal and entertaining. There was an article about GNU Radio in the April 2004 issue. The article glazes over the issue of how the input stream is obtained from the A/D (sound card or PC Card) and piped to the processing application. I have an interest in this software for use in my master's thesis. Could this be explained?

One more thing—what is an inexpensive PCMCIA wireless card that is compatible with Linux?


Michael Wallace

The September 2004 article by Eric Blossom featured a step-by-step FM listening project that should help with your question. Hope you enjoyed it. All of the common wireless cards are compatible—check your distribution's hardware list. The least expensive one we use is an Actiontec HWC01170-01. —Ed.

Check Out gdesklets

I am pretty new to the Linux Journal world, so forgive me if you have already covered this topic, but I recently read an article about SuperKaramba [LJ, May 2004] and just wanted to suggest writing about gdesklets as well. In my experience, they are much harder to install and actually get working than SuperKaramba, and I think it's only fair for non-KDE users to have some desktop eye candy as well.


Daryl Sorrell

Also try MGM, the “Moaning Goat Meter” if you can't get enough stats. —Ed.

Browsing SMB Shares

I read the Linux Journal article “It's a Cross Platform, All Right!”, by Marcel Gagné with enthusiasm and excitement that we finally have a very useful Linux SMB browser. Each and every time I would try to open any MS Windows folder in the SMB4K “Network” window the following message would appear:

An error occurred:

smbmnt must be installed suid for direct users mounts (1000,1000)
smbmnt failed: 1



Pete Mackies

Marcel replies: first of all, let me say “Thanks” for reading the column and for writing. I do appreciate it. As with a number of these projects, it is still in pre-1.0 development phase, but I had great success using the tool, both in building and in terms of use. Had there been huge problems, I would not have featured it. I've been so impressed with it that I've been using it as my Windows share browser since I wrote about it in the article roughly two months ago.

That's a problem with the smbmnt program and the permissions it allows, not specifically with SMB4K. There's a note about this in the FAQ on the SMB4K Web site (smb4k.berlios.de/faq.html). Specifically, the smbmnt binary is not SUID root and therefore doesn't allow anyone but root to mount. On my test system (Mandrake 10), the smbmnt binary is setuid by default.

You should be able to solve the problem you are experiencing by changing smbmnt's permissions. Start by doing an ls -l on smbmnt to make sure you aren't pointing to a different binary (as on my Mandrake system). Then, change the permissions as follows:

chmod +s /usr/bin/smbmnt

That should allow you to mount shares in non-root accounts.

I understand your concern, but I feel that when presented with a highly promising piece of software like SMB4K, it is sometimes worthwhile to mention it, despite its pre-1.0 status. Furthermore, I never write about something without having personally confirmed that it works. Unfortunately, I don't have access to every conceivable distribution, and it is possible that things don't always work perfectly on other systems. In the meantime, I hope you'll have some luck with the solution I offer. Thanks again for writing, and do take care out there.

Another Linux Cat

Here is a picture of my cat, Tosca, who seems to enjoy Linux Journal as much as I do. Often, when I arrive home with a fresh new LJ and sit down to read the many interesting articles, he'll come along and lie down on top of it on my table, and then fall asleep! He's also a big fan of Linux and specially the SolarWinds GL screensaver.




Kim Halavakoski

Bring LJ to Europe

I think it would be great to have a European Linux Journal. I think that there's a lot going on here that would give lots of interesting articles. Europe, besides having a larger population than the USA, has much more Linux aficionados, so I think the “gold mine” is here, and a Eurpean version of Linux Journal could be great.


Jo� Vieira

Video Editing Software, Please

I've been a subscriber to LJ for more than a few issues now. Thanks for the great work and dedication. I get a kick out of at least one section per issue, so keep at it! I don't remember seeing any pieces related to Non-Linear Video Editing....One of my home hobbies is DVD production, and I'd really like to see some articles about the tools that are available in Linux for this.


Vasco N�oa

Missing Readers' Choice Category?

WAN adapters are no longer part of the Linux Journal Readers' Choice Awards. Why did you remove them?


Doug Vilim

We didn't get enough votes in this category. Check page 50 for a great Linux WAN story, and read LJ next month for the Readers' Choice results. —Ed.

Jump Pages for Articles—Good or Bad?

Would it be all right if I'm candid? I thought so. I have a couple of thoughts concerning your choice to move the on-line resources to your Web site. I got a subscription to a magazine, not to a Web site. Consequently, I want this to be self-contained. I don't want to have to go to the Web site to get the URLs.

The very first URL I went to (/article/7609) was not there. If you don't provide the resources as promised, you are doing a great disservice to your readers. It would be much, much better to use a little space on paper rather than to do this.

This could be okay, if you had user feedback like the wonderful feedback on php.net, which allows users to share their experiences. Then, this new approach to using the Web site would cause me to find instantaneous feedback like corrections and other tips that pertain to each article, and further, I would likely go to this page, as I would want additional information on the topic of the article.

It could be okay to not have to type in long URLs, but really that's only rarely an issue, and if you were truly concerned, I'm sure you could provide shortened URLs. This is really just a lame excuse so you can get more traffic on your site.


Shane

We'll be candid right back then. We'd rather fit in one extra original article per issue than a chunk of URLs for all the other articles in the magazine. And, you need a browser and a Net connection to use the URLs anyway. The late jump page was bad, and our fault. We're going to adjust our Web and print calendars to fix that for future issues. In the future, the jump pages will be up before you see the issue. Try it now. The jump pages are set up for comments in a threaded Slashdot-like style just like the Web-only articles on linuxjournal.com. —Ed.

Bad Magazine CD, Bad, Bad

I have been rereading several magazines that I have bought over the last couple of months concerning Linux. At present, I am using Red Hat 8 as it is the only one I can get to operate on my laptop.

I recently purchased a copy of Linux Format from England with a copy of Mandrake 10 on the cover. It loaded on my laptop but I was unable to use it as far as the Internet goes—no drivers and no information concerning an external modem.

I am sure that many people who are fed up with Windows would very much like to try Linux, but with the extreme difficultly of finding drivers and not knowing if any particular external modem will work, we are defeating our purpose in trying to promote Linux to many people.


Herb Taylor

There are often better sources of Linux CDs than magazines. Here's some advice on picking a distribution: www.linuxjournal.com/article/4619. —Ed.

Layout Software for Books and More

It's been a long time since I've seen an article in LJ about LaTeX. With the now-mature LyX GUI front end, it's more than ready for prime time in business. LyX will not replace OpenOffice.org, for example, for simple letters, invoices and the like (although it can). But, for reports, articles, books, slide presentations and other printed materials, including PDF distribution, it cannot be exceeded. I'm using it for my book (to be published this autumn by Springer-Verlag) using their svmono class file, so I can send it to them essentially camera-ready. LyX is much like Linux itself; use the half-hour tutorial and you're immediately productive, but the depth and breadth of what it can do is a never-ending learning process. The on-line support is outstanding, and the output, being typeset, is visibly better than anything done with a word processor, even on the same 600dpi laser printer.


Rich

Why Mozilla?

I read Mr McFarlane's article on cross-platform development in Mozilla (“A GUI for PS(1) Built with Mozilla”, July 2004), and much of his book (Rapid Application Development with Mozilla) as well. I salute him for his work explaining the Mozilla environment.

For all that I am a fan of Mozilla, but I must confess that I do not see its appeal as a development platform. The more I learn about development with Mozilla, the less I understand what it offers. As far as I can tell, Mozilla development requires that one master at least XUL (the Mozilla GUI layout language), CSS, JavaScript, RDF and the Mozilla template language (another XML dialect). In order to get your software working, you must also contend with a fairly arcane process of software installation, in which you must place your code, and RDF to describe it, in very specific places in the directory structure. Even after overcoming these hurdles, one is left with a fairly restricted set of interface tools. For example, if you want something that features free-form drawing, like a Canvas, you are out of luck. Finally, there are only the weakest of debugging tools to help you grapple with all of this machinery.

In contrast, consider Tcl/Tk, PerlTk or the Python equivalents (wxWidgets is a reasonable alternative to Tk as a widget set). In this case, there is only one notation to deal with and the debugging tools are good. In addition, these languages all feature some sort of read-eval-print loop for rapid prototyping and testing. Finally, all of these approaches are platform-independent. So what application development niche does Mozilla fill?

Please note that I am not asking this because I want to start a programming language war, nor because I want to denigrate the work of McFarlane and others! No, this is a serious question, and it's one to which I'd like to have a good answer. I am a fan of the Mozilla Project, and I have invested a fair amount of time in understanding the development process. I'd like to see a way to use this stuff, but right now the hurdles seem too high.


Robert Goldman

Nigel replies: I note your puzzlement and take no umbrage at such well-put remarks. Here's my brief take.

Mozilla negatives:

  • We're only at version 1. There's lots of nasty problems in any version 1, and lots of missing items.

  • XML learning curve for traditional programmers—it may not seem obvious, but there is a collection of people who just love stitching applications together using XML. The XML learning curve is also a toolset—one different from the traditional 3GL toolset. One can get a lot done with it.

Mozilla positives:

  • Mozilla applications can run from chrome, local disk or across the Internet without change. That's powerful flexibility. The execution environment is widely deployed and highly secure. At least on the graphics side, Mozilla is better integrated in some areas with native GUIs than, say, Tcl/Tk.

  • Linux lacks a Visual Basic-like easy-to-use type of environment. Mozilla aspires to a degree to achieve that.

  • Mozilla development proceses are a natural extension of Web development processes; there's already an audience and a work flow.

  • Mozilla uses no cryptic syntax. JavaScript, XML and CSS are all well-established standards. Niche syntax, like Python and Tcl, are unlikely to get as widespread support. That's not to dismiss those languages; they're good. It's just that they're also odd.

  • Web delivery—with broadband increasingly available, Web delivery of applications is a real option for service-oriented businesses.

  • Records management—there are few free 4GL-style tools available on Linux. Records management applications are a very large segment of the computer industry. Mozilla presents front-end opportunities for vertical apps. Using 3GL code to develop advanced 4GL apps is just not sustainable in the long term (I think).

This is my two cents. I agree that what Mozilla does can be done in other ways. I think that there are ways of leveraging Mozilla that are uniquely efficient, though.

Thrilling USB Story

I read Greg Kroah-Hartman's article on USB snooping [LJ, August 2004] with great interest, not because I'm interested in USB devices or CrypToken devices, but because of Greg's writing style. Learning how he thought, and the false steps he took, kept me reading the article. Greg clearly understands that articles not only need to live up to technical standards, but must be fun to read!


Jon Miner

Ultimate Linux Box Hardware

In the sidebar to the Ultimate Linux Box article in the August 2004 issue, you note that if there is any one thing to buy this year, it's an HDTV card. You also talk about doing articles next year on pre-ban cards. So, do you have any card suggestions? I may “kick myself” for not getting a card now, but I'll kick myself more if I spend a couple hundred dollars on a card that won't function under Linux. Thanks for any input, and thanks for a consistently great read.


Gar

Ultimate Linux Box hardware is listed in the on-line Resources page for the article at /article/7614. —Ed.

Photo of the Month; Penguin Hatching Season

At 9:25 pm on the evening of July 14th, Sebastian Phillip Gagné came into this world. He weighed in at 7 pounds and 14 ounces (3.565kg) and was just over 21 and a half inches long (55cm). This beautiful blue-eyed wonder also has a crop of thick luxurious brown hair. Both baby and mother are doing great! Attached is a picture that requires a little explanation...as you might expect, it was inevitable that somebody would give him something penguin-themed—in this case, a bib. This picture was taken on July 22, 2004.




Marcel Gagné

Photo of the Month gets you a one-year extension for your subscription. Photos to ljeditor@linuxjournal.com. —Ed.

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