Letters

Readers sound off.

Letters

In Defense of GNOME

I think LJ and even Linus couldn't be more off the mark with their GNOME comments. Choice is great, but when there are too many choices, you just don't really know what to do. I've always found that KDE was far too busy for me to work with, and GNOME < v.2 was like that too (I remember the days when GNOME was paired up with Enlightenment). I'd like to work, not configure. Coincidentally, when I asked my CompSci friends to pit KDE vs. GNOME, none of them came to the defense of KDE. And, lots who replied are friends whose opinions I respect, and a good handful of them, gasp, use Apple laptops with OS X.


Benton Lam

An Easier Way to Keep Linux in Suspense

I enjoyed the May 2006 issue, especially all the articles on virtual machines. I have a lot of experience dual-booting various Windows and Linux OSes. Recently, I have been playing around with VMware on Linux and Windows, and I think I have an interesting killer app for running a Windows host with a Linux guest: Suspend. I never have been able to get Linux to do a proper software suspend to RAM except on IBM T and X laptops. So running XP on the system lets me play 3-D games and standby and resume very reliably. I can click on VMware and run all my favorite Linux tools and toys with ease. I also can save lots of money in electricity and still have my computer respond in seconds, not minutes.


Stuart Boreen

Gentoo Emerges Victorious on AMD64

In etc/rant [June 2006], the complaint seems to be not so much about Linux's poor AMD64 support as much as it is about Debian and Ubuntu-based distros' AMD64 support. I bought an AMD64 system about a year ago, installed Gentoo (because why use 32-bit packages if you don't have to), and it worked (and still works) flawlessly. The Gentoo/AMD64 devs did a wonderful job of making sure the very few packages that don't work with AMD64 completely have another method of installing. Need Flash? emerge (install) mozilla-firefox-bin. Java nsplugin comes with emul-x86-java. Need win32codecs? emerge mplayer-bin. Everything else can be emerged completely as normal.


John

MS Office Compatibility Is a Must

To “da editor in chief”: I wanted to write a few times, since it's great to see you at Linux Journal. I think the position is a perfect fit. I followed you through the years at other rags and like your style very much. I hated to see you go, but everyone moves on hopefully to bigger and better things.

First thing I want to say is the column name is also perfect.

Second, SUSE does ROCK indeed. I've been using it since around version 5, and I've been more or less happy, but 10 really ROCKS. I have both an i86 and AMD64 machines running 10—both installed the correct version flawlessly. That's what I call smooth.

I'm sorry I must disagree with you on your first article [February 2006], which basically stated that Linux office suites should not look like Microsoft products or mimic them in any way. Statistics report that Microsoft Office has more than 90% of the office market—it is the product to beat. My last gig was at a very large Microsoft shop with 6,000 people in the US. Now, that's a lot of licenses. Because of the compatibility of products like OpenOffice.org, I was able to load my laptop with SUSE and use OpenOffice.org to edit documents created with Word. I also was able to send these docs back and forth with changes, and nobody was the wiser that it was done on a Linux box with OOo. If the compatibility of OOo with Office wasn't there, I would still have XP on my laptop. I was able to use the company LAN, WAN, VPN and so on with no problems. The problems I did have were with Excel and PowerPoint, because these weren't so compatible, and/or my expertise with them was not so good. I'm a programmer, not a CPA or salesman. The bottom line is, if I can use OOo as a replacement for Office, I can run Linux. If not, I have to run Windows.

Maybe in ten years, when Open Document will be the standard file format, we can have different products with a different look and feel, because they will all write the OD file format. At the moment, we have to beat the leader at its game, which in both the enterprise and desktop areas is really the only game, but Linux is becoming a major player and open-source products like OOo are fast becoming a “drop-in” replacement for Microsoft. We can't let Linux fall to the wayside just like the Mac did, because it wanted to be different and not have anything to do with MS. Microsoft helped Mac be its own entity and be different, and basically made Apple pie out of them. Now only the crust is left. No threats from any Mac area of expertise.

Thanks and good luck. I might not agree with everything you say, but I definitely will be reading your page every month.


Jeffrey Lapchinsky

What Good Do Rants Do?

How is ranting about the inadequacies of Fedora 5 accomplishing anything good [June 2006]? Complaining about disk labels? Have you tried doing iscsi without labels? Let me know how long /dev/sda remains the same disk after reboot. (LVM disk IDs not withstanding.)


Tu

I hope ranting about Fedora's current method of using disk labels inspires Fedora to implement them better. As I suggested, all they have to do to fix the problem I encountered is create better labels, such as FC5ROOT instead of /. —Ed.

Has Fedora 5 Left Nick Breathless?

A good rant this month about Fedora [June 2006]. I was nodding my head as you trashed the default partition labeling and dissed the glacialness of Yum. I occasionally have to use Fedora at work—to prevent myself from using Dan's Boot and Nuke to solve all of Fedora's problems at once, I just keep muttering to myself, “at least it's not Windows, at least it's not Windows....” Finally, apart from a small jab at Debian about licensing, you haven't had a go at Debian or Ubuntu for ages—have you run out of puff?


Sonia Hamilton

Fusing SSHFS with Your System

I just received a copy of the June 2006 Linux Journal, and as I was browsing through, I saw the article on SSHFS. I finished reading the article, and I thought, “WHOA! I could so use this!” So I rushed home to install.

I am using Debian (sarge), so I opened up synaptic, searched for sshfs and there it was! I installed it, and followed along with the article about how to configure it. I set up the usermod, and my empty directory and then...failure. Bleck: sshfs Me@ip: /remotefolder "fusermount: fuse device not found, try 'modprobe fuse' first FATAL: Module fuse not found.

I looked around and found that I needed to create a module for the kernel. Again using synaptic, I downloaded module-assistant and fuse source. I already had my kernel-headers installed, but a few of the other systems did not. That package is required for the installed kernel. This command seemed to work well (take note of the quotes):

apt-get install kernel-headers-`uname -r`

Once they were installed, as root I ran:

module-assistant build fuse

Followed by:

m-a install fuse-source

modprobe fuse

At this point, you must reset your login. Either reset GNOME/KDE, or if you did this in another terminal session, log out and back in.

Now, I reran as my user: sshfs Me@ip: /remotefolder, entered my password, and it worked!

From this point on, I had no other problems with following the article. Thank you so much for pointing out this gem. My household runs Debian Linux and telling my wife and guests how to use SSH all the time to transfer files can be bothersome at times. Now there is just a folder with the different links they can click on! Thanks LJ!


Chris Stackpole

Tail between Its Legs

I recently upgraded my distro, and all these little scripts I have all of a sudden, didn't seem to work. Why? Because the utilities head and tail have now decided that tail -2 is no longer valid syntax. You see, if I had half a brain I should know that the “proper” syntax is tail -n 2 or tail --lines=2. They really should have pushed harder for tail --may-I-please-see-the-last 2 --lines. Just because -# numeric arguments [worked] for more than 20 years is no reason I should have an expectation for it to continue. After all, -n 2 is “standard”, you know, and I should just suck it up and look around on every single machine I upgrade and make sure I haven't committed the mortal sin of using deprecated syntax. My clients just love paying me to do that.


Keith Smith

Great rant! Want my job? —Ed.

Deconstructing Constructive Criticism

I have been reading your etc/rant column since you began writing for LJ, and some points you bring up are valid and need to be said. I would like to provide suggestions to make your comments more fruitful as well as acceptable to others.

From a reader's perspective, your style seems to be to offer criticism in an attempt to create positive results. That criticism, however, is destructive—not constructive. Constructive criticism encourages improvement. Destructive criticism destroys what we have already built, and thus your comments are seen as a digression from the cause of Linux. Let's deal a better hand of cards.


Valden

Thanks for your comments. I've changed the name of the column so that I won't have to rant every month, but I wanted to respond to your concerns. I abhor character assassination, the last resort of someone with no substantial defense, so it is never my intention to engage in character assassination. So my point regarding Fedora 5 wasn't to call the Fedora developers boneheads. My point was that Fedora's approach to partition labels is bonehead. As I pointed out in the column, Fedora could use labels that aren't likely to conflict with other distributions, such as FC5ROOT instead of /. This is what I consider constructive criticism, even if it is wrapped in a politically incorrect tone, which is simply my rant style.

In short, I think where we disagree is on what constitutes constructive criticism. I think you're looking for constructive-sounding criticism. —Ed.

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