More Letters

DiskOnChip2000 and GPL.

In your interview with Hans Knobloch of IGEL in Linux Journal issue #64, Mr. Knobloch correctly states that “IGEL developed the Linux boot driver to boot Linux from an M-System's DiskOnChip Flash Memory.”

However, I was extremely surprised to read in the next sentence that “The driver has been released under the GPL to the Linux community and can be downloaded from M-System's server”.

This is not the case. The kernel driver for the DiskOnChip 2000 is a binary-only driver. Any person or company distributing a kernel with the DoC driver linked into it is in violation of the GPL and s leaving himself open to legal action for a violation of the licensing terms of the Linux kernel.

We were looking seriously at the DiskOnChip for our own embedded solutions, but we decided we were not able to use the driver provided by M-Systems, because of this and other technical reasons.

The current advice to the Linux community is to avoid this device at all costs. More information on this subject is available at Thanks for your time.

—David Woodhouse,

To avoid further discussions about IGEL's part of the DoC boot driver (a part which does nothing if used alone and is only a piece of the M-Systems complete boot driver), we at Infomatec IGEL Labs decided to rewrite this part and convert it into a loadable module instead. This should end the discussions of what is the right GPL license term for this piece of software.

I hope this focuses the discussions on the tremendous potential of the IGEL Flash Linux Technology (JNT) as an embedded Linux OS, rather than getting excited over a piece of software that we supplied to M-Systems to accommodate their product.

Also, I'd like to correct the misprinted WWW addresses of our company. The correct listings are:

Americas and Canada:
Infomatec IGEL Labs GmbH:
Infomatec AG:

Thank you very much for your continued support. Keep up the good work!

—Hans L. Knobloch, President & CEO, IGEL LLC

Re: DiskOnChip2000 and GPL

Please note that my advice regarding the DiskOnChip has now changed. M-Systems have given me complete specifications for both the device and the flash filing system they use on it, along with sample hardware.

I now have a real driver available under the GPL—it's still alpha-test quality, but it's getting there quite fast.

See for more details.

—David Woodhouse,

Comments on June 1999 Article “Root File System on RAID”

I enjoy Linux Journal and have been a regular subscriber for over two years. I thank Linux Journal for the June 1999 Article “Root File System on RAID.” I like to see columns of this type and hope to see more like it in the future.

However, this article is now a completely out of date representation of the software RAID subsystem in Linux. I'm wondering how long this article sat around in LJ offices before it was published.

To point out a few wrong things about it:

These are not changes implemented in the last month or two, many of the features he missed have been part of the RAID subsystem for 6 months or more. And to show you the age of this article, the “Resources” section makes references to software and patches now almost 2 years old, both the raidtools package and the kernel patch mentioned were released in October 1997.

A modern RAID HOWTO can be found at
Modern RAID tools and patches for kernels can be found at

I thank Linux Journal for the article and know how hard it is to write on a fast-moving topic like this, but please make sure of its timeliness when it is published. Thanks.

—Michael Wise,

Actually, this article had a very short shelf life at our office—two months from when it was received to when it was printed. Sorry that it turned out to be out of date. Thank you for sending us this additional information. —Editor

More on PCI Modems—LJ August 1999—#64

Greg Bailey wrote, that he managed to get a PCI modem to work without issues. Recently, “The Computer Paper” (August 1999 Volume 12 N.o 8) on page 60 had a clipping *Linux support for all modems*.

A company called Actiontec Electronics claims to support Linux across all its modems: ISA, PCI and PC Card.

Actiontec is at and “The Computer Paper” (A free Canadian Publication is at

I do not know this company, or its modems, but it seems that we can no longer groan at the mention of a PCI modem. Apparently some will work.

—Tim Legge,

“Compounding Errors?” (letter, 8/1999)

I was disappointed but not surprised by your reply to the letter from Greg Bailey in the Letters section, Linux Journal, August 1999, regarding PCI modems under Linux.

I have found this topic to be a very confusing one, although I must admit I was taken aback by the reply that “everyone I talked to” agreed PCI modems were incompatible with Linux. Perhaps you need to widen your circle of acquaintances? :-)

In any event, there is a dead-bang-giveaway that you can check for—on the outside of the box, before you buy. Look to see which operating systems the modem supports. If it supports either Windows 3.1 or DOS (or both), it supports Linux. If it doesn't support either of these operating systems, it almost certainly will not support Linux, as in that case it almost certainly is a dreaded Winmodem.

Take good care,

—John Freed,

Red Hat 6

Am I the only one who finds this latest copy of Red Hat (6 something) less than ideal? Two programs I am fond of, Midnight Commander and locate, are provided in advanced broken versions, and I've managed to screw-up the file system many times without trying very hard, something I *never* did with 5.2.

Linux ignoramus I may be, but I think this product is getting *too* much like Windows.

Best wishes

—James G. Owen,

Review of Caldera 2.2 and Slackware 4.0

Having been very impressed with Linux for the past several years, when the latest releases came out I decided to upgrade my various systems. My prime computer for development work is a AMD-K6/200 with 32 MB RAM and 2 GB hard drive dedicated to Linux. Swap space is a 120 MB drive. I had installed OpenLinux 1.3 on this system with no trouble. OpenLinux 2.2 installed acceptably, but I could not get the printer or LAN connection to work. Finally I got the printer going by ignoring the COAS and LISA routines and manually configuring the Epson filter for Ghostscript, etc., with MagicFilter.

I could not get OpenLinux 2.2 to properly install on a Pentium P-90 with 16 MB, nor on a 486/DX-4/100 with 16 MB and a small hard drive. Indeed, even using the LISA install according to the manual was difficult and troublesome. Yes, I know that Caldera calls out for 32 MB RAM, and this restriction is indeed necessary.

In particular the “cutsy-poo” graphics distract from the job of installing. I found little control over the install using the Lizard. Word Perfect printer drivers, etc., were not properly installed, nor even prompted. Thus, I would be hard pressed to recommend OpenLinux 2.2 for someone who is hardware impaired or who uses an Epson dot-matrix printer, or even an older HP LaserJet. Yes, the available printer drivers for the system are limited to the more recent printers.

Caldera does not give an upgrade path from OpenLinux 1.3 to 2.2. Fortunately the Zip drive works well, so backing up the necessary files was not a problem.

On the positive side, the X Window System configured easily, and KDE installed with quite acceptable defaults. The kernel seems faster, allowing more efficient processing. Getting the Zip drive to work after the installation was complete was as simple as loading the driver.

On the other hand, I also had been using Slackware 3.6 on a system at church (I am a pastor). I decided to upgrade that system (a 486/DX-100 with 16 MB and 1.6 GB dedicated to Linux) with Slackware 4.0. The installation was not as graphic or as entertaining, but it worked beautifully with very little tweaking. I was able to upgrade rather than do a complete new install, saving lots of time and frustration. (Yes, the backups were done just in case.)

Of the two products, I would recommend Slackware. Once running, both seem to be fine systems, but the installation of Slackware was by far easier and more controlled.

—Jeff Williams,

My Linux Journal Subscription

When I arrived home from work today, I found the latest issue of LJ waiting for me. As usual, the back page was nearly torn off, the binding was broken in a few places, and the cover had several creases in it. I have been a reader of LJ since issue 5 or 6 and a subscriber since issue 12. I look forward to reading the issues whenever they arrive, but I am getting very tired of paying for a magazine that comes to me in this sorry state. Of all the subscriptions I receive, your magazine is the only one that consistently arrives damaged.

You need to do something about the packaging/shipping of your magazine or you are likely to lose my business. I assume I am not the only subscriber who has these problems.

—Richard A Spaller,

We've done several things in the past to try to help with this problem. We now use much thicker paper for our covers, and we have changed printers and distribution centers. I'm sorry that you still have a problem. We'll keep trying. —Editor

Minor Correction

At the end of Marjorie Richardson's interview with Red Hat CEO Robert Young in the August 1999 Linux Journal, you stated that Red Hat was going public and gave an address for a web page containing Robert Young's press announcement. The address you gave - - is wrong. Probably a typo, but the correct address is (note: ipo, not iop). It's a minor error, but I had to go through Red Hat's web site to find it, so I thought I'd point it out.

—Brad Mitchell,

Black Bars and Slick Paper

In the August issue 'Letters' column, a reader complained about the black bars you put around certain sections; he didn't like the ink getting on his fingers, or some such. You replied about the good reason you put those bars there, and that others also had concerns, and that you were working with the printer to discover a better solution.

Having worked on more than one UserGroup news magazine, I'd guess that the real problem is the slick shiny paper. While it makes for crisper colors and graphics, it also tends to resist the inks, allowing them to smudge all over the place. I've noticed it on humid days that wherever I've had my thumb, the print becomes smeared and difficult to read. I also find that in most lighting conditions, the slick paper generates a glare that makes reading difficult and uncomfortable. I'd vote in favor of keeping the black bars and moving to a flat finish paper. Being that this is a computerized world, a URL pointing to where I can compare screen shots on my own system has more value than crisply printed versions; I'm more interested in the text of the articles than the trueness of the colors.

Thanks for being a wonderful collection of data and information. BTW, I just got your Sept. issue, and wanted to share the comparison chart with a friend, but that chart seems to be missing from the online edition.

—Bruce Kingsland,

The chart is there now. We are still looking for solutions to the black ink problem. —Editor

You really need to sort out the black ink problem

I seem to recall seeing a letter from one of your readers in either the last issue, or the issue before, complaining about the black ink that your printer uses to produce the magazine. The text generally seems to be OK, but the black adverts are terrible. I too am getting very tired of leaving black fingerprints all over the inside of my magazine, and my mouse, and my keyboard...

This month's big culprit - the Yellow Dog advert on page 107, next to the letters page, funnily enough.

I like the magazine enough to subscribe to it, and I see it on the shelves often enough to know that there are a lot of people out there buying it in sufficient numbers for the book shops to keep stocking it. If the printer you have can't rectify this problem, and you can't ban black ads because of the revenue they bring in, then find a different printer. Bye for now,


Reader's Choice Quote

I just received the September issue of LJ in the mail. In the sidebar on the Readers' Choice Awards you say: “In the immortal words of James Hoffa 'Vote early and vote often'.”

FYI this has been a saying in Chicago politics since the 1960s when the late Mayor Richard J. Daley (The Boss) was in power. (It may even pre-date that going back to the 1920's and Mayor Big Bill Thompson).

—Bill Tate,

Sorry, I always understood it to be Hoffa, but can't remember now where I found it so admittedly I could be wrong. Thanks for the correction. —Editor