Letters

Readers sound off.

Letters

In Praise of Linux Games

I'm increasingly impressed by the variety and quality of games that are available for Linux. Most of them are pretty wholesome, which I appreciate, as I don't care for on-screen violence any more than the real thing. Have you considered adding a column devoted to Linux games? I'd bet lots of people would read it. By the way, I've enjoyed Marcel Gagné's articles immensely and have tried a lot of the programs he has mentioned. Reading LJ is a great way to learn about interesting software. Keep up the good work!


Mike Ford

Now You're Cooking with Linux

I would like to address the critics of Mr Gagné. Marcel's column provides people who are new to Linux topics that are not way over their heads or beyond their needs. The different writing style/format makes the column even more appealing to the Linux newbie.

By attracting new desktop users, Mr Gagné makes a huge contribution to the Linux community. Mr Gagné does this both as a professional writer and as a citizen. Evidence of this can be found in Mr Gagné's WFTL-LUG. I would suggest that the complainers join the WFTL-LUG and find out for themselves. Perhaps they can make a contribution or two in the LUG instead of all this unproductive negativism.

By the way, the March 2007 edition was super. Keep up the good work.


John Kerr

Now You Don't See Them, Now You Do

In the April 2007 issue, Chris Trayner states in his letter “Now You See Them, Now You Don't” that Konqueror no longer allows one to right-click on a file and see an option to delete it. True, it is not there by default. However, if you go to Settings→Configure Konqueror→Behavior, you will see an option Show Delete context menu entries, which bypasses the trash can. Check this box, and the delete option will be present at right-click. Thank you for an outstanding publication!


Dwight Middlebrook

Thanks for clearing up that issue for us!—Ed.

Doc Searls, iPhone Home

In the April 2007 issue on page 42, “Why an iPhone When We Can Make Our Own OpenPhone?” by Doc Searls, the context that ANA is relating directly with customers via the cell is misleading. I have worked with all three carriers in Japan: NTT DoCoMo, AU and Yahoo Keitai (formerly Vodaphone Japan). Yes, there is an IC system that allows passengers to check in quickly. Yes, ANA will get stats on how many people are using the system, but JAL also has this system and also the Japan railways (JR East/West). The technology is based on Sony's contactless IC chip. But, the system is controlled by each cell carrier. The carriers also control the Java applet that runs the IC chip, so they too can receive stats on who is using the system. The carriers here in Japan control which phones their service will use. It's not as bad as in the US, as there are only three silos here. But, the customers have no rights. With locked SIM chips, you can't get any unlocking code. Until last year, there was no number portability. Just in the last five years, Japan cell phones could be used overseas without the blessing of the carrier. Interactive programs with the end user aren't possible. One additional comment, the only reason IC-enabled cell phones exist is because the train system started using IC-enabled train passes—JR being the majority of railways and majority of the population rides those trains every day.


Robert Balfour

Cell-Phone Silos

Doc, you didn't mention the worst cell-phone silo of them all [LJ, April 2007, “Why an iPhone When We Can Make Our Own OpenPhone?”]: the crippling system that makes it impossible for cell phones to communicate directly with each other. Whatever happens in software development for mobile phones, this silo will stand as an insurmountable obstacle to progress until the network model changes from the current client/server system to an unrestricted, peer-to-peer, ad hoc model.

This transformation is certainly disruptive technology. As such, it will probably follow the usual disruptive technology development path. It will be ignored, ridiculed, lobbied against and actively resisted by the existing technology providers, until it makes them irrelevant and takes over the world.

What if this technology had been in use when Katrina hit New Orleans? There would have been no communications problems into any area where there was at least one phone within range of another, at any time, including the height of the storm. Rescuers would not have had to wait for days or weeks for destroyed infrastructure to be replaced just to have basic communications.

Instead, there were thousands of working cell phones in the disaster area, all rendered completely useless by the silo owners' communication restrictions.

The future of wireless is already written large in the form of the Internet. A self-organizing, self-healing worldwide network is an unstoppable force. The next obvious step is to remove the wires, and in keeping with the best Free Software traditions, this can be accomplished from the bottom up, simply by doing it.


Carl Brown

Banning Novell or Buying SCO?

A few issues ago [March 2007, /var/opinion], Nicholas Petreley called for a ban on Novell after it signed an agreement with Microsoft. Today, I read on Slashdot that Novell assents to “Windows Is Cheaper Than Linux” (news.zdnet.co.uk/software/0,1000000121,39286295,00.htm).

My advice to Novell: buy SCO. They both seem to be on the same path.


Paul Ammann

News about Dell's Article

As a frequent reader of LJ, I must tell you about good news from Dell. For sure, in consequence of the article “A Modest GNU/Linux Proposal for Michael Dell” (from www.informationweek.com):

Dell launched a Linux Web survey this week, moving it a bit closer to reintroducing the open-source operating system as a factory-installed option for home or office use.

The survey, which was posted Tuesday and runs through March 23, asks a variety of questions, including which Dell system respondents would like to see with Linux, what kind of computing chores they would use the machine for, what type of software support they would like, and the Linux distribution they favor.

In launching the survey, Matt Domsch, Linux software architect for Dell, said in the company's official blog that Dell has been moved to action by the more than 110,000 requests for Linux computers on the company's on-line customer sounding-board IdeaStorm.

So, for those of us who love to work outside the Windows world, this kind of movement comes at a very important moment and shows to the “monolitic, one-way” CEOs and “Masters of the universe” that intelligent life exists here! Keep up the great work there!


Eduardo

Blast from the Past

While cleaning out my desk, I found my Winter 1996 Linux Internet Archive set. Linux that ran on 4MB of RAM, MFM drives, EISA buses, Gravis Ultrasound cards—it brings a tear to one's eye.

Anyway, thanks for the informative articles. I am a longtime reader (someday I will get a subscription) and fan! Keep up the good work!.


John Harper

Re: the “Someone Else May Have to Decipher Your Code” Letter in April 2007 Issue

In his letter titled “Someone Else May Have to Decipher Your Code Someday”, Michael C. Tiernan suggested the use of temp files instead of pipes for readability, instead of thinking that pipes can be as easy to read as code used in temporary files.

But, when using temporary files in a production environment, it should be done right, so the lines:

Tmp1=/tmp/tmp.1.$$
Tmp2=/tmp/tmp.2.$$
Tmp3=/tmp/tmp.3.$$
Tmp4=/tmp/tmp.4.$$

should be replaced by:

Tmp1=`mktemp`
Tmp2=`mktemp`
Tmp3=`mktemp`
Tmp4=`mktemp`

or:

Tmp1=`mktemp /tmp/tmp.1.XXXXXXXXXX`
Tmp2=`mktemp /tmp/tmp.2.XXXXXXXXXX`
Tmp3=`mktemp /tmp/tmp.3.XXXXXXXXXX`
Tmp4=`mktemp /tmp/tmp.4.XXXXXXXXXX`

for security reasons. First, mktemp ensures the filenames are unused, and the files generated do have the access rights set to ensure that only the owner can read the content.


Berthold Hollmann

Miniature OpenGL Development System

I just thought you might want to know about this project: the myOS—Miniature OpenGL development system. It is a minimalistic OpenGL-capable GNU/Linux-based system without X. It is a bare-bones Linux system, stripped down of everything but the core necessary files to compile and run OpenGL/C code. It has a simplified directory structure and cleaned up internal cross-referencing. It starts up with, and in total has, only a single script (one.xthost.info/zelko/opengl.html).


ZeAtShuttle

Did you know Microsoft owns the patent to OpenGL?—Ed.

Addendum to Collin Park's “OpenOffice.org ODF, Python and XML” in the May 2007 Issue

After writing “OpenOffice.org ODF, Python and XML”, I picked up a copy of the O'Reilly Python Cookbook, 2nd edition (Martelli et al), which is full of delightful recipes. One of them, “Extracting Text from OpenOffice.org Documents”, suggests a way to accomplish the task of the article in a more Python-ic way, using Python's zip file library; the “top layer” shell script would then not be needed.


Collin Park

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