More Letters

Re: Raritan Article

I was absolutely thrilled with having my article published in the May, 2000 issue of Linux Journal.

However, and not to detract from the wonderful job you all do putting the magazine together every month, you got my email address in the bio absolutely wrong. Not only have I NEVER had the email address, I haven't had a email address for over one year. In addition, as you can see below, my email address does not contain the name alex, nor is it on the concentric domain. If you could make a printed correction as soon as possible, and one on the Website, if needed, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you.

Warmest regards,

Alex Heizer,

“The [not so] Wonderful World of High-Speed Internet Access”

In your issue of April 2000, Jason M. Schumaker hit upon the very same issues I had when I first entered (as his article is entitled) “The [not so] Wonderful World of High-Speed Internet Access.” I too, thought that having fewer companies to deal with would mean less hassle and finger pointing. Over half a year later of DSL I can faithfully relate that while this assumption has been proven correct (in my situation) a much larger issue has been revealed. Although providing the best telephone service in the world, U.S. telcos seem to be delivering third world DSL service. Phone companies seem to have no incentive to provide dependable DSL with the apparent belief that this new market is a birth right.

I've set up my own web server (DSL is definitely the way to go here) for an audio streaming site ( and therefore desire uninterrupted service. I signed up for 1 year with my regional telephone company as my ISP and DSL provider. Without fail, service drops out for (at least) a few minutes every few days and a few hours every week. Outages usually occur after 1am when their late night shift has gone home suggesting how jury-rigged their access to the cloud must be. (They don't seem to know what redundancy is.) Unfortunately, this is the busiest time for my overseas visits.

And almost every weekend, late at night, my city goes down. (I call up friends to verify.)

More alarming however is that my email password was hacked by a high school student who entered this company's entire DSL network. Amusingly, whenever I attempt to change my password, the company's web site refuses to recognize my Linux machine (so fixes must be done on a Mac or Windows). (My “free” home page has the same problem.) Thankfully, this hacker (and his friends) have turned out to be good sports and (as far as I know) did no harm.

One huge benefit of being the only UNIX based system with my local switching center is that when I do have service, it is unbelievably fast. (Yes, I know that it shouldn't make any difference but you haven't seen my downstream/upstream speeds.)

I am planning on setting up a mirror site (again Linux but running the new open source version of Quicktime) in a different city but which is still within the same telco region. This time I'll be trying out some of the smaller, specialized DSL service companies to see if there is any difference. Yes, Mr. Schumaker is correct, they are more expensive but maybe they will deliver.

—David Koenigsberg ,


Background: I am new to Linux, just trying to begin learning. I have RedHat Gnome on a 466 machine.

In your magazine, the Journal, it would help my 86 year old eyes if you would color the background for articles in a little lighter shade. The use of colored backgrounds makes it difficult to read the text. I don't understand a lot of what I read there anyway, but someday I will.

Enjoy thumbing thru the magazine anyhow. Regards.

—Henry B. Poole,

Ranting and raving (in case of unreadability, please contact

I read with some interest the letter by Scott Moore in the April 2000 issue. The way this person talks reminds me of discussions I followed some years ago on comp.os.linux.advocacy, and strangely enough, it is always the M$ advocates that get angry. I get the feeling that somewhere deep inside of them, they doubt their choice of M$ software. I have read the reply of Linus Torvalds about using M$ software, but I feel that I have to express my point of view against M$. Very short : I DO NOT LIKE MICROSOFT AT ALL.

I do not hate them, but I do not like them. This point of view was developed in less than a few years time, beginning in 1990/1991, when I discovered that IBM, Compaq and Digital Research had better DOS systems than M$ (remember the infamous DOS 4.0 ?).

I also had a few tries at Windows 2.0 and 3.0, but I had already worked with Apple Mac (I installed them) and found the M$ thing so severely lacking that I decided to stick with DOS.

One of the things that I did in years that followed, was create systems which did not have any software from M$ running. I used DR-DOS, Lotus 1-2-3, WordPerfect Office, FoxPro (before its acquisition by M$) and Zortech C++. Linux nowadays makes it even easier to run computer systems without any M$ code.

That brings me to my next point, an initiative I would like to call Zero M$, or ZM$ for short. This initiative would consist of two layers, the first being the M$ Free System (or M$FS). To create this layer, one should certify that the system being added to the layer is completely free of M$ software and then label it with a sticker. The second layer is the M$ Free Zone (or M$FZ). A zone can only achieve this status when all systems in the zone are labeled M$FS. A final status could perhaps be added, Certified Zero M$ (CZM$), for a complete company or division.

The only thing I lack are two logos which at first sight describe to someone the status of the system or the zone. Anyone interested ? Am I serious ? Who in the Free Software/Open Software is ever completely serious ?

As an aside, I try to mention nowhere the name of the Particular Company, but use M$. Aside from being used in many places, am I right that is perhaps impossible to register such a word as a trademark?

—Jurgen Defurne,

Reply to “ranting and raving”

Hello, I am writing this letter in response to Scott Moore's “ranting and raving” letter in the Apr 2000 edition of LJ Scott: I almost thought your letter was an April Fools prank, and I still hope it is to be honest.

You, Scott; have written possibly the most ill-informed letter pertaining to Linux ever. Gee whiz brainiac, did you ever consider going to an FTP site and finding the Linux downloads there? Or are you such a complete simp that you have to have a nice lil' hyperlink to get you there? As far as there not being software for Linux; again, Einstein, you have to actually look for it, I have midi sequencers, graphics editors of all shapes and sizes, and anything you could imagine, even an Aol Instant Messenger clone for Linux.

As far as Microsoft “earning” their market share, (HA HA HA)the whole reason they have such an overwhelming percentage of the market in the first place is because of the fact that most average PC users are unwilling to be challeneged in ay way shape or form and continue (much like yourself) to live in ignorance of alternative OS's.

In conclusion, all I can say is you sound like you have no clue whatsoever of what Linux is about, thus perhaps you should shut the hell up until you actually learn something about the software your'e criticizing.

P.S. “Microsoft has created some of the best software on earth”

I didn't stop laughing for ten minutes.

—Zachariah Zinn,

Help with EFM

I have heard a lot about the EFM (Enlightenment File Manager) and have tried to download and compile it many times, but it is not easy at all for the average linux user to do since it's in the early stages. Maybe in the future, you could include a simplyfied guide to compileing and installing the EFM in one of your articles. I would really appricate it a lot. Thanks.

—Graham Greenfield ,

The OS*es* of the People

Pablo Beana wrote ravingly of your “Musings on Linux Profiteering” in the April “Letters”, but he seems to have missed your main point. It's not about money, it's about the fact that “exlusion is one of the main things the free software movement fights against”. Yet here he is, putting down the BSDs because they have a different license, which he either hasn't read or doesn't understand. Unlike Jason Kroll, he forgets that there was free software (including the original BSD, minus a few bits of old AT&T code) long before Linus began coding his first program. Everyone in the Linux community should be glad there are three BSD distributions as well as the hundreds of Linux distro's; there is strength in numbers.

—Ian Darwin,

Your “Sending Files by Email” article

I must say I was a bit disappointed by the above article in the March 2000 issue of Linux Journal.

You mention uuencode as the way to send binary files. Most users these days wouldn't know the uuencode format if they bumped into it on the street—much less when getting an email message comprised of seemingly incomprehensible text.

The standard for sending files by email is of course MIME. You can use metamail for that. This sends any file in MIME format, and every modern e-mail client will understand that.

—Gavrie Philipson,

The Last Word!

Hi! I usually don't write to the editors of a magazine unless something really gets to me.

The article at the end of each magazine “The Last Word” by Stan Kelly-Bootle is absolutely terrible. I have endured it the last 3 issues when I tried to read it.

Either Mr. Bootle is very intelligent and can say alot of nothing with no practical value or he is just a terrible writer or both.

I don't care about is ego and intelligence (the worlds full of them), But I would like something practicle somewhere. He's wasting your money paying to say nothing!

Thanks for listening!

PS. The picture of him is also terrible!

—Mel Fisher ,

Your recent article in Linux Journal

Hello Lawernce & LJ,

I just wanted to drop you a note and let you know that I caught a few errors in the “Setting up a Linux Gateway” in April 2000 edition of LJ.

1) the IP Masq HOWTO hasn't been a Mini-HOWTO for quite some time now.

2) I've found that you don't have to run “modprobe” upon each boot. Then again, I manually load all modules manually to keep system resources to a minimum.

3) The section where you specifically allow/deny internal clients to be MASQed has the wrong netmask. With the shown /24 mask, all clients in the 192.168.0.x network will be able to access the external network. To fix this, it should be changed to a hostmask of “”. Personally, I like the newer notation of /32.

4) When setting the default route on a client with named machines, you are trusting that DNS is properly configured w/o demonstrating how to set it up. I've seen many times where DNS won't work the first time, etc. I recommend the use of IP addresses when setting the DGW for both reliability and security but this is just my recommendation.

Thats about it. Thanks for helping spread the word of IP Masq to the Linux community!

—David A. Ranch,

Linux in general

As a real Linux newbie, coming from the Windows world, I am absolutely astounded at the community that has sprung up around Linux and the help that can be recieved just by asking. This does not happen much , if at all, in the Windows world.

As I am just learning, I find your magazine(and another, which I will not mention as I prefer LJ quite a bit) extremely helpful in understanding how things work in Linux. As we know Linux is not as easy to understand, being a Unix type OS, it is extremely nice and helpful to find a source where information can be recieved in a relatively understandabe format.

Here's a thought:it might be nice to have a regular(meaning every month) column for newbies and beginners to Linux as it can be very daunting to learn. I put Linux on my desktop mostly because I became sick of Windows crashing every week.

So again ,thanks for the great magazine and keep up the good work. It really does help.

P.S-Tux likes your magazine too!

—Jon A,

Linux Journal Interactive

Thanks for providing this excellent resource.

I was having withdrawal symptoms because my March edition did not arrive. A bit harder to read on the train, but at least I haven't missed out on an entire issue.

—Alan Graham,

Re: the Internet in the April 2000 issue

After reading the “impressive” statistics on the Internet's growth in Peter J. Salus' article, and then reading Marjorie Richardson as she “talk[ed] about world domination” in another, I felt compelled to illustrate to your writers some basic truths about the world off-line that they seem to have missed in their zeal.

First of all, over 50% of the world live on less that $2 USD/day, 70% live on less than $10 USD/day and nearly 85% live on less than $20 USD/day. Even given the absolutely cheapest method of getting online (386 with Linux, 1 4.4 modem collected from a dumpster, free ISP),the Internet just isn't a reality for most of the world's citizens. Even if they could afford it, day-to-day survival would push a luxury like the Internet pretty far down the priority list behind the necessities. Add in all the other barriers to access (language, lack of physical access to hardware and infrastructure, culture, anti-US sentiment, anti-technology sentiment, illiteracy, etc.) and the prospective market for the Internet shrinks even further. Top this off with the knowledge that the rate of impoverishment is increasing rather than decreasing and that the gap between the poor and the rich is widening every day, and you begin to see my point.

Set in the context of the above statistics, it is easy to see how the same data lauded as proof of the Internet's popularity and growth can be re-interpreted in a more realistic light. Instead of looking at the estimated number of current users (260 million) as a huge number, we see it as only 4% of the world's population - the most affluent portion, to boot. The connection of Third World countries starts to seem like something to be derided rather than celebrated, knowing that a wealthy few in those countries will be able to shop at while the vast bulk of the population fight for clean water and a reliable supply of food. Similarly, we see the drop in the Internet's growth rate from 2.2 to 1.5 as the inevitable slow down as market saturation nears rather than the drop as the excited first rush of new users ends.

Perhaps your writers are merely expressing the national tendency to look at the world from a United States-centered perspective (For example, “Americans” live in both North and South America, not just the former). Perhaps they are so thoroughly besotted with technology that they cannot see life proceeding in any other way, despite examples to the contrary appearing nearly everywhere one looks. I personally believe the greatest likelihood is that Linux Journal has a vested interest in promoting excitement about the Internet as a means of ensuring its survival. “Without the Internet, Linux would not exist.”, Ms. Richardson states - and neither would her job.

For statistics on world poverty see:

—Matthew Yeo,

Linux business story

My experience is that having Linux solve problems that require stability is a very good start. I had trouble with my CD-recorder - broke 50% of the disks under Win98 - and when one day we had a P200 / 64 MB machine that was too lowly for workstation use, I asked permission to establish a small 100 MBit network and have the machine serve CD-recording. That went without a flaw, and CD recording hardly ever fails.

Then one day we need to take screenshots of some tricky DOS program that escape any real-life solution (HyperSnap, PCXDump, ...). My boss asks if I know a solution, and I suggest VMWare under Linux. Runs fine, we even get to take screenshots of the Win98 install program (not an easy task otherwise).

Later still, we have another P166, only 24 MB ram, to spare. Boss suggests we create a new Linux server for file and printer sharing, and is willing to put another 32 MB ram into it. We install RedHat 6.1 without X-Windows, and the thing runs so well we never get around to adding the extra ram. That ol' box has yet to have downtime.

We proved that we don't need NT internally, and we're better friends with the Mac folks than we've been for quite a while :)

—Henrik Clausen,

AOL Hell May Be Here To Stay

I reference to Mr. Doc Searls' article entitled “Now What: Are We Going t o Let AOL Turn the Net into TV 2.0...” in the April 2000 issue I believe that h e is a little off the mark. Regardless of who designed the Interent it is unfortunate that the powers that be will make sure that they will be able to invade our precious screen space in whatever the future brings. Further more, even though there are those of us out there that find TV ads and other fo rms of advertisement to be intrusive much of the populous doesn't seem to min d their existence. I personally have observed people wanting to watch the ads.

Go to change the channel and they screem bloody murder. Just like the “precious” ad space during the Superbowl half-time. People can't wait to see what the media moguls come up with next to make them want to buy their products.

I would have to say that this is split between to kinds of people. Those who are annoyed by the advertising and those who aren't and honestly want to see the ads. Of course there are the gray areas in between and those who cou ldn't care less either way. So it seems that the people that want to see the a ds are the mindless majority.

Until there is a large enough organized movement against the media moguls they will continue to intrude into your daily life whether you like it or not.

Until that time there is possibly nothing the average citizen or tech sav y individual can do about the problem.

—Jason Bean ,


There was a letter in the April forum that a writer wrote concerning “free” Linux and the superiority of Microsoft OS that I would like to respond to. The first distribution I used was Slackware and I downloaded it disk by disk off the Internet (not all, but what I wanted). I am not a brain surgeon so it was “incredible ” that I found it. Also, I support Windows NT4.0 at work

everyday(I know, what a job). It is clearly not a superior product. Anyone who mentions “highly stable” and NT in the same breath is deluded. Lots of people use MS because they are locked in (Office97 in one respect). BSD's are not uncommon for this “clearly superior product”. I use Linux at home and I think that is is a better OS.

—randy ,

Thanks for the C-64 Article

Thanks for the C-64 article you did for LinuxJournal April2000 edition.

I still own my beloved C-64 and 1541 5/14 disk drive with a load of games! I bought it back in 1982 and it still runs! I migrated over to the Amiga2000 in 1991 and I still run it and access the web with it.

Although I have been delving into the world of Linux since I can't wait for those corporate bafoons to make up thier minds on when the next Amiga will be out.

I like Linux a lot, it brings me back both the C-64 and the Amiga combined! I love the new discovery of making things work and the inovation of the Linux Kernal and the host of all those free and not so free programs. What joy! But since i work in an environment with WinNT and Oracle and Novell, there are no people to converse with about Linux :( We do have the Atalnta Linux group, but they meet once a month :(. I need to go to school.


—Israel Cortes ,

Complaint about 3840l1

Listing 3840l1 in the JPython article in the Python supplement looks fine in the file, but the listing in the magazine is misleading. The function 'push' should be defined as:

   def push(event): # Callback for regular keys
However, in the magazine it shows up as:
   def push(event): # Callback for regular keys

This is illegal Python, because a def line must always be followed by an indented line (unless the entire function is on one line). The reader, trying to figure out what was meant, cannot tell whether the second line is supposed to be the function body, whether the function body is missing (replaced by the blank line in between), or whether the function body encompasses several or all of the following lines.

Please keep this in mind for future listings. Because Python doesn't have braces, we need the indentation to tell where a function ends.

—Mike Orr ,

A letter to LJ

Linux—Way to Go—no, sorry: Linux a Long Way to Go!

I was amused to read how easy it is to send files by e-mail in Unix (LJ March 2000, page 120) hust by using command line utilities like sh, tar and uudencode and uudecode. Compare this with the burden Windows users have bear when they select Attach file from their e-mail program's menu.

I am not yet a Linux user and now it seems, it will be some time until I will be. Years ago I tried Yggdrasil's Plung -and-Play Linux, and it did not quite plug and play—instead, it destroyed my hard disk after many
a tries in installing it. Now, I decided to try Turbo-Linux evaluation version included with LJ (the FREE part printed BIG in the cover, and the evaluation, as usual, in small print...). It turned out just as bad a product. No instructions included, I managed to get the installer going. After many error messages telling aboud accessing past a device's limits, it did not allow me not to configure networking—with no way
out but ctrl-alt-del. Perhaps all coild have gone ok if the installer would have told me how to make a special hardware diskette from the image files on the CD. I went to Turbo-Linux's Web site to get some instructions, but when the only documentation turned out to be a two Meg PDF file, I decided to wait some more years until trying Linux ago. I have a hunch, that Turbo-Linux may turn many more people against Linux than towards it... Until I noticed this issue of LJ (I have bought many issues before) in a bookstore, I was thinking of buying Corel Linux. but now I think I'll pass Linux altogether.


—Matti Vuori ,

I was only showing one way to do it using UNIX commands. Most Linux mail programs, such as mutt, also give you a one button to click on to attach a file. You may do these things in many different ways. I was only pointing one. —Editor

Comments on “The (not so) Wonderful World of High-Speed Internet Access

In your April 2000 Issue Jason M. Schumaker says regarding ADSL pricing, ”Frustration comes from having to pay $60 per month.“ for a 384K/128K connection. Oh, how that makes my mouth water with envy! In this part of US West-land, the best I can do is an ISDN line (128K if I use both channels) for $100/month. Add $300/month for ISP charges and over $200/month to get the line to the house and we're talking serious money compared to Jason's paltry $60.

I'd love to pay twice what Jason is paying even for a traditional dial-on-demand ISDN line. I live in northern New Mexico, though, and US West has repeatedly expressed their unwillingness to provide anything approaching modern service here affordably. So much for their ”Life's Better Here“ slogan.

—John McDermott ,

Security problems in PERL/DDB scripts given in Linux Journal March Edition

This morning I was reading your Article in Linux Journal (March Edition) about Perl interface to SQL systemes and CGI programming.

Your scripts (i just checked, others may be dangereous too) does not verifiy input given by Web user :

    my $item_id = $query->param("item_id") || 0;

    if ($item_id)
        # Get (and print) basic information about this item
        $sql  = "SELECT C.category_name, I.item_name, ";
        $sql .= "       I.item_description, AVG(R.rank)";
        $sql .= "FROM RankItems I, RankCategories C, ";
        $sql .= "     Rankings R ";
        $sql .= "WHERE I.category_id = C.category_id ";
        $sql .= "AND   I.item_id = $item_id ";
        $sql .= "AND   I.item_id = R.item_id ";
        $sql .= "GROUP BY I.item_id = R.item_id ";
What about if user send something like “12 ; DROP TABLE I” (or other SQL statements) in $item_id ? Depending of the underlying Databse, one can perform completlty arbitrary functions on database and maybe on operating system or at least completly change semantics of SELECT statement.

You should at least test input for meta-chars such as ;,|/\: and escape all input in quotes.

I know these scripts are just examples, but they are read by CGI developpers unfamiliar with good security practices, and can be copied as is in numerous CGI scripts.

I have seen too many enormous security holes during CGIs code reviews made by our company to not mention this. I hope you and editor will include a warning in next issues about potential security issues.

Thanks for reading me.

—Alain Thivillon ,

Hi, Alain. Thanks for writing.

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I never thought about security issues in the sense that you suggested. I definitely should have, and I will do so in the future.

I'm even more embarrassed that I put an unquoted variable inside of an SQL statement! I thought that I was now using DBI's placeholders consistently in all of my programs—in both my consulting work and
in my Linux Journal columns—but obviously, some of my old, sloppy
programming habits have stuck around.

By using placeholders, which automatically quote variables before submitting the final SQL statement to the database server, it is possible to avoid the sort of security issue that you mention. Given that placeholders can also speed up a query, particularly a repeated query, it's really too bad that I didn't use them more fully here.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention; I'll try to double-check such things when writing future columns.

—Reuven M. Lerner,

Microcomputer emulation...

I enjoyed reading your article on game emulation in the April issue of LJ. I am one of those who “remember the Spectrums”. I found a great ZX Spectrum emulator that runs on Unices, called XZX. It's homepage is If you want to experience with some games, BASIC extenders (the Beta Basic series, etc., pretty much like Simons Basic on C64) and other programs, go to “World of Spectrum”,


—Boszormenyi Zoltan ,

daemon woman


Oh please, ever heard of free will?

Lighten up...

Off topic...

The women that spew stuff like you are usually the ones that are not qualified to be a “daemon babe”.

I am glad I let my subscription lapse. The rag (err.. magazine..) gets worse and worse. Now I think I know one reason why.

—“Aaron C. Springer” ,

Ahhh, a person, who doesn't believe women (or men) should be treated as sex objects, can't possibly be able to edit a high-quality technical magazine. I didn't know that. —Editor

a humble request

a picky request, but would it be possible to redesign the spine of LJ to put the date at the top, so that when some of us file them in magazine holders, we can see the date and issue right away rather than having to drag out a handful of them first?



—rpjday ,

LJ look and feel

First, let me tell you that the look of LJ is vastly improved over years past [has it been years _already_?!] Gone are the bizare sub-heads and some other weird things, but there are still some things that could look better, if you don't mind my [unprofessional] opinion:

1] I am a figure freak, especially graphs and tables: examples from issue #71 are those on pages 54 and 110. Lots of info, but not too pretty and sometimes hard to understand.

2] sub-articles [or whatever you call them] and code listings: I don't mind the pastel colors, but a hairline around the box would be a big improvement. This would also include the 'resources' at the end of articles.

Again, I hope you take these suggestions the right way, and keep up the good work! _Love_ the mag!

—Rafael Block ,

Correction in “Artist's Guide to the Desktop, Part 2”

There is a mistake in the “Artist's Guide to the Desktop, Part 2” article in your April 2000 issue of Linux Journal.

“The most interesting of the epplets is probably gkrellm, ...” gkrellm is NOT an epplet, but rather an independent application that can be used in any window manager that you may choose.

Otherwise, great work!

—Marius Aamodt Eriksen ,

Subscriber access

As a subscriber to the Economist, I can get all of the current issue in soft copy form. I can't with LJ! I guess they aren't as advanced technically as LJ.

I subscribed first for Stanley Kelly-Bottle (the main reason I read Unix Review) and for the good Linux stuff.

I know you have a strong geek following, but some of us work from the GUI (I know that's looked down on) and would like to see some of the stuff as entered in things like linuxconf.


—Paul Cubbage ,


I enjoy your magazine immensely, and look forward to the arrival of each issue. However, I've noticed a disturbing trend in the how-to articles. This trend is to recommend that the reader use linuxconf to configure some option. I'm sure you know that linuxconf is a Red Hat-only tool, and is not available in, say, SuSE or any other distribution.

I would appreciate it if you could make every effort to avoid distribution-specific tools as the answer to configuration options. Being relatively new to Unix, and having a SuSE distribution, I still have no idea what to do to configure Samba daemons to start automatically (April, 2000 issue, page 32) since it simply says use linuxconf.

Thanks for your consideration.

—Tom Wood,