Letters

Readers sound off.

Rant Away

Oh I do love a rant! So, Nicholas, feel free to rant—especially when the rant is as relevant as that in the February 2006 issue of LJ. Indeed, let's stop skimming the scum from Redmond's ponds. We need to stop treating MS products as the de facto “gold standard”. Of course, this means giving up the unrealistic attempt to make Linux a drop-in replacement for Windows XP, and instead letting Linux stand on its own merits—merits in terms of functionality, initial cost, TCO (as if anyone had any real idea), community, potential for learning and liberty.

You might be interested in the longer, gentler rant by Dominic Humphries “Linux is not Windows”, at linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm, which I give to my students.

Keep ranting! I'd hate to be the only one doing it.


Gordon Findlay

No Ho-Hums

I'm a longtime subscriber to LJ. I really look forward to every issue, you all do a great job. So, when I read “Nick Gets His Wish” [February 2006], I thought, “okay another 'ho-hum' editor that isn't going to make waves, especially on the first issue”. Oh was I in for a surprise on the last page! You really tell it like it is man! Good job. I like you already.


Rick Bronson

Your Fine Rant Needs to Cover Even More

There is no reliable, usable way to develop custom small- to medium-sized business applications to run under Linux. Many small- to medium-sized businesses that I develop for would have gladly switched to Linux, until I tell them that they will have to continue running their custom software under a Windows emulator, because there is simply no other feasible way to do it. Then it's, “Why switch to Linux then?”

/end/rant, good luck!


Terry

According to Evans Data, the vast majority of developers who use Linux as their primary platform for creating small- to medium-business solutions switched to Linux from Windows. They are creating native Linux applications with Eclipse and/or KDevelop and a wide variety of languages and toolkits. There is no need for Windows emulation—Ed.

Skim Cream Not Scum—OpenOffice.org 2.01

After reading your article about moles in the Open Source community [February 2006], I tried to install OpenOffice.org 2.01 on Windows 98 SE and discovered that it would not load due to the unpacking and loading changes that have been made in XP. I guess OOo 2.01 has an XP loader. So, if you have been using OpenOffice.org on Win 98 SE and try to go to OOo 2.01, you will find that you need XP to unpack OOo 2.01.

I thought you would like to know that your “mole” theory is not too far off.


John Farrow

This Is Gonna Be Fun

This [past] month's table of contents [February 2006], not much: MSP 430? Qtopia? Embedded DB40? Augmenting Moore's Law? Case Studies? Nope. The only things of real interest are the Single Sign-On article and the opportunity to drool over the Nokia 770. Next month's Security issue [March 2006] looks interesting, though.

And then I get to /etc/rant. All right. Finally, someone with the guts to say out loud that this slavish emulation of Windows sucks. That flat file text config files with tons of comments beat the living crap outta the registry. That we don't need a clone of Dot-Net. That OSS has been so busy making sure that we can do everything that the proprietary systems can do that we haven't done anything truly creative in years.

Petreley's EIC of LJ. Oh, yeah. This is gonna be fun.

But, according to the LSB, you should have put it under /var.


Jeff Simmons

Superb Opening Volley

THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU for pointing out the absurdity of some the “goings on” in the Linux community of late (re: your /etc/rant on Skim Cream not Scum in the February 2006 LJ).

We love Linux, Linux Journal and all things open source. Our CTO and I (both former research Physicists) have watched in amazement as the gatekeepers of things “open source” continue to misplace their angst and focus—with the Sun/Java hangup being front and center.

The only people on planet Earth who have not realized that Java is open source is a small group of C-exec's at Sun and those Microsoft sycophants in the Linux community you so eloquently point out.

Sure Sun continues to have a hand in the direction of Java—as does Torvalds on the direction of Linux. However, neither Sun nor Torvalds can just do whatever they want—their genies got out of the bottle long ago....


Jean

Test This!

In the January 2006 LJ Work The Shell column, Mr Taylor states that “using the [ symbol ensures you'll use the built-in version [of test] if available, but explicitly calling test means that you'll likely not have that performance enhancement when running your scripts.”

This is totally incorrect. In the AT&T UNIX world, test and [ were both built in to the shell starting with System III (circa 1980), and have been ever since. A shell script will never run /bin/test if called as plain test, since built-in commands are always found before external commands. Please pass this clarification on to your readers.


Arnold Robbins

Rants, Maturity and Linux Journal

One of the things I've always liked about Linux Journal is the mature, experienced viewpoints. After reading Mr Petreley's rant, I'm wondering if that's going to come to an end very soon. The whole fanatical anti-Microsoft thing is better suited for the “insightful” Slashdot crowd; the real beauty of Linux and open source isn't anti-anything. It's about positive and creative effort, solving problems and providing choice.


Eater

Funny you should mention that open source is about choice—Ed.

Registry Data Is Still Data

I just finished reading your /etc/rant column in the February 2006 issue of Linux Journal. Although not generally a Microsoft apologist, there are some things I feel compelled to point out to you. The philosophy behind the Windows registry is not universally wrong. Whether it is a single binary database or a massive XML file is really irrelevant.


Tim

XML was a fad choice and unnecessarily obfuscates the information. But the biggest problem I have with the Linux registry is how the data is managed by various daemons—Ed.

Rant #1

Welcome to Linux Journal. I've subscribed for about eight years now and have seen several editors and other staff migrate through. I hope your tenure is fulfilling and mutually beneficial (that is, you and the magazine).

When I read your end-of-issue rant, “Skim Cream not Scum”, I could really relate to it. And, I share your disgust with those that try to emulate Microsoft rather than offer better things.

I use OOo 2.0 only because 1) it converts all my old WP files going back more than a decade, and 2) it can save in the new OpenDocument Format. However, I have also come to like LaTeX (and even came to love LyX for its productivity over writing in Emacs), and that's what I use for articles, reports and my book. I use OOo only to view Word docs sent to me by those still stuck in the Microsoft world (which includes virtually all my clients, agency staff, association staff and relatives) and to send them digital copies of documents they need to read in Word.

Keep ranting about the Emperor not wearing any clothes. Perhaps folks might catch a clue eventually.


Rich

Linux at Home—You Conned Me

When I passed the magazine stand at Fry's a few days ago and saw your January 2006 issue, with “Home Projects”, “Linux Phone Home” and especially “At Home with Linux” on the cover, I bought it. I think you conned me. But, hey, it was only five bucks.

What I would like to see is a magazine that tells me how to set up my computer so I can do word processing, data bases and spreadsheets easily. Using Linux. Your magazine does not do that. Not in any part of it.


William F. Steagall, Sr.

We have a sister magazine that addresses exactly the sort of thing you describe. It's called TUX (www.tuxmagazine.com). It is available in PDF format—Ed.

Help with Work the Shell

Dave Taylor's piece on shell control constructs (LJ February 2006, p. 26) prompts me to ask about two of the more problematical tests for the if construct.

The tests if [ str1 < str2 ] and if [ str1 > str2 ], where str1 and str2 are strings, apparently should decide whether one is lexicographically less than the other. Under bash 2.05b.0, however, they don't appear to work; the < and > are interpreted as redirection operators.


Chris Trayner

Dave Taylor replies: the trick is that you need to Escape the angle brackets, even though you're in the middle of a test expression. Try this:


#!/bin/sh

a="zebra"  # then try a="aardvark"
b="banjo"

if [ $a \< $b ] ; then
  echo "$a is less than $b"
else
  echo "$a is NOT less than $b"
fi

exit 0

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