Letters

Readers sound off.

Feb was Fab

I think that your February 2007 issue is the BEST one ever. I'm not particularly excited about the state of “Linux Media”; many of the news sources are too geeky or too banal and boring. LJ is definitely one source that is not with the rest.

The February issue has something for everyone: geeky stuff, professional/sys admin stuff and general stuff. This is what I'm expecting from a magazine. Some of my favorite articles are the Perl and PHP integration one and the udev one. Both articles are completely unexpected and extremely useful; I have never seen anything covered close to it in any news source, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them! Well done! And, please keep it up!


Dan

Document Rapid Change

I have a complaint about the way things get changed in Linux without giving ignorant people like me sufficient clues. I got a pre-installed Linux laptop and put my programs on it. Everything was fine until I tried to build drivers. Things had changed!

More recently, I downloaded Fedora Core 6 and installed it, and then installed svgalib. The demos failed to run, and a baffling message was issued: “cannot restore segment prot after reloc; permission denied”. I asked the svgalib maintainer for help and sent a bug report to Red Hat. They pointed me to the source of the problem, which is SELinux. This is a new thing (for me). Why couldn't the error message have mentioned the name SELinux? And (a side issue) what kind of security policy lets me load a library from a removable drive but not from the hard disk?

As a programmer who tries to make things for other people to use, I know how easy it is to get lost in the details and fail to anticipate what is going to trip somebody up. We all just have to try harder.


William McConnaughey

Long Live Freedom

Nice mag, I read it over here in the UK as an import to my local Borders store.

I just read Nicholas Petreley's /var/opinion article in the February 2007 issue of Linux Journal, and I agree with his point of not using Novell tools, and hence aiding the MS strategy of infecting Linux with its intellectual property. I would add the following points for spreading Linux (or more generally, open-source software) freedoms:

1) Get Windows users started on OpenOffice.org and Firefox.

2) Public bodies need to use OOo and OSS where possible to ensure the lowest possible cost and maximum freedoms from forced file format changes.

3) Schools should be using OOo and OSS for the reasons above, but also to save the young from the indoctrination of the Windows/MS office toolset.

4) Do not promote the use of the Mono framework and C#, which has many MS patents that could be used in a future legal backlash against Linux. Better to use Java.

5) Support the concepts and goals of the Linux standard base (LSB) initiative, so that the support burden can be reduced and many more apps run without library searching and installation—not just Java.


Mark

Less Cooking More Eating

In the March 2007 Cooking with Linux, Marcel Gagn�talks about Ekiga (GnomeMeeting), and as is often the case, manages to sell me on the idea of using one of his suggested software picks. I was really interested in trying out Ekiga, so I went to its Web site to download it. Unfortunately, the site was hard to use (download was broken in a few places), and I found that building the code required all the latest installed software. I guess I'm not surprised that a GNOME-based piece of software is incompatible with my 11-month-old, out-of-the-box R Cubed Linux laptop, but I am disappointed that Gagn�didn't make mention of the fact that in order to build and install this software, you had to be willing to re-engineer someone else's code or go out and purchase a new computer with a fresh install of the latest GNOME desktop. Anyway, please relay to Mr Gagn�both my interest in his software picks as well as my frustration in those same picks that are incompatible with the bulk of existing Linux installations.


Evan Carew

Marcel replies: First off, let me apologize for getting you started on what was obviously a frustrating experience. I make it a point to avoid writing about anything that requires too much effort to build and/or install. It's 2007, and software installation under Linux shouldn't be that hard. There's a reason I stopped giving instructions for building from source in my articles. Binary packages are, for the most part, always a better idea and less frustrating to the end user (programmers and hard-core geeks excepted). Building from source should be a last resort.

I picked Ekiga partly because the bulk of modern Linux distributions either come with Ekiga on the distribution CDs (or DVDs) or provide downloads via their installation programs (such as Synaptic, YaST2, DrakConf and so on). These package managers take care of pesky issues like prerequisites and hunting down missing software by automating the process. I did my Ekiga tests on a Kubuntu system and another running Mandriva. Neither required that I download source and build. Both ran “out of the box” without fuss.

As for the Ekiga Web site, I found none of the problems you experienced when trying to download packages (since I did that as well). As for issues with building GNOME software, what can I say other than “ouch!” [insert appropriate smiley here].

My “mission” in the world of Linux and open-source software is largely to simplify Linux, to demystify its complex image and to show people that they don't have to be computer scientists to take advantage of the benefits that FOSS offers. I want everybody to use Linux, and for that to happen, it needs to be accessible. It's not that hard, and it shouldn't be.

Double Negative Double Take

Dear Nicholas: I don't like your /var/opinion column. Please don't stop writing it.


Simon

Please fail to stop reading it.—Ed.

The Art of War

I have to admit that I haven't agreed with you very often in your /var/opinion columns, but you hit the bull's-eye in this one [see Nicholas Petreley's “Dealing with the Devil” in the March 2007 issue].

Microsoft is taking a page out of Sun Tzu's Art Of War; it likes to keep its enemies close. Microsoft knows that Linux has become 100x the threat that it ever thought it would be, and its philosophy has become one of standing next to the competition in the buffet line to see what they eat next.

I too would love to be able to support Microsoft. Heck, I used to be a shareholder. Until it can play politely in the industry sandbox and stop knocking everyone's sand castles over and attempting to replace them with its shoddy imitations, I will hold Microsoft in contempt.

Great job on the magazine, I've been reading since the very first issue!


Gary

Doc's DIY Internet Infrastructure

Congratulations on this wonderful article [see Doc Searls' Linux for Suits column in the March 2007 issue]. It actually changed my mind (I thought of letting my subscription run out—I renewed today).

For a while already, I've thought about building a community-owned fiber network in my town. So far, I've been thrown back, because it is almost impossible to get any one of the big companies (Cisco, etc.) to call me back. And, face it, you need some router, which you cannot buy at Best Buy around the corner. And, you also need some funding. It is hard without even a quote from any of those companies to write a business plan that will be accepted by any bank.

Thanks for that article, it encourages me to pick up that idea again.


Henning

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