Letters to the Editor

by Various
Power Failures?

Having worked with Linux for several months now, I thought the information below might be of interest. I rarely use my notebook for working with C code, due to the swap partition slowing things down. A 500-line code fragment will take 30 seconds to become an executable on my Fosa 486DX2[hy]66 notebook with 4MB of RAM; it takes six seconds on my 386DX33 desktop with 8MB.

Following are results I obtained testing battery life: stopwatch timed, average of many runs each operating system. The machine was the notebook mentioned above, which has dual scan colour. Batteries were fully charged at start in each case. I included both continuous and periodic runs.

OpSys.  Notes                                           Duration
Windows 3.1     Sparse hd use (solitaire, Majong)       81
MS[hy]DOS 6.22  B&W use only, infrequent hd use             82
OS/2 Warp       Misc programs, moderate hd use          115
Linux   B&W & colour C programming, heavy hd (swap) use     121

Have other notebook users observed similar results? The nearly 50% increase using OS/2 or Linux is puzzling and requires further investigation.

R. H. Armstrong, hankarm@compumedia.com

Yes—and there is a perfectly good reason. Linux and OS/2 use the “halt” instruction to stop the CPU when they are idle; DOS and Windows 3.1 do not. This also has an effect on temperature; CPUs running Linux and OS/2 are much, much cooler than those running other operating systems. A few months ago, someone connected a thermocouple to his CPU and ran a bunch of tests and reported on the results on the newsgroups, his tests showed that DOS and Windows ran the CPU very hot, and Linux and OS/2 ran the CPU much cooler.

More Feedback

Although there have been some improvements with regard to the LLS (Linked List Syndrome), I think there is still room for improvement (beside never splitting articles at all).

Personally I find footers and headers like “continued on next/from previous page” irritating. What kind of audience is LJ aiming at? Brainless Windoze 96 users? I have enough brain capacities to turn the page without instruction. I can even skip pages that contains ads without instruction; it is my default behavior. May I suggest you only use those “continued” lines when you skip over parts of other articles?

Another disadvantage of the LLS is the need to backtrack the origin of the current article when you want to continue with the next article. When backtracking is necessary to find the next article, could you print the page number of the next article at the end of articles?

Hans de Vreught, J.P.M.deVreught@cp.tn.tudelft.nl

We have taken this suggestion and discontinued the continuation lines when an article jumps over ads. Alert readers will note that you can always tell when an article ends by looking for the “LJ” symbol.

Although we'd like to believe that all our readers read Linux Journal straight through from cover to cover, we suspect that it's not true. So we leave it up to our readers to use the table of contents to find the articles they want to read.

There is a thing that I don't understand with the LJ. Why do you split so many of the articles into pieces? In LJ16, “perl” was continued on page 51 and 52. Why not on page 44 and 45? For my feeling, this is rather confusing and I wouldn't like the books at my library sorted like this.

Otherwise I'm glad that there is the LJ.

Micha Jung, jungm@sip.medizin.uni-ulm.de

When laying out Linux Journal, first we put color items (ads and illustrations) on the color pages, then we fit everything else around that. We try to avoid jumps whenever possible, but sometimes, because of ad placement and so forth, articles have to jump. We try to keep code examples together and we generally don't have more than one jump per article, not counting pages with just ads. Every month it's like working out a puzzle to fit everything. Hopefully, this clears up the reason for jumps.

Linux is Real!

Many projects at work have screamed for a Linux solution. Whenever I mentioned it, I would get some interesting looks, and then the subject would change. Most projects would get done by coercing Novell to work, or worse, use a dedicated PC to do certain jobs.

Finally, I presented a Linux solution. Part of my presentation was to have a few Linux Journals with me. Suddenly my audience realized how “real” Linux was. It really helped to have a professional publication to drive the point that this is not just a bunch of people playing around on the Internet.

So, now I have a project on my hands! Thank you for your help in doing a project the right way for a change. I look forward to future issues.

Chris Sullivan, slowhand@usa1.com

Subscription Price and Paper

After the announcement of our recent subscription price increase, the following e[hy]mail dialog took place between a reader and Linux Journal publisher Phil Hughes. We'd like to hear other readers' thoughts on this issue.

Phil (in c.o.l.announce): We want to continue to make LJ affordable but it has to be affordable for us to print as well. We settled on a $3 increase for 1-year subscriptions and a $5 increase on 2-year subscriptions. If paper prices and postage prices remain fairly stable, we can live with that and hope that you can too. Oh, if you happen to own a forest suitable for making into paper and want to support the Linux community, please contact me.

Charles A. Stickelman (stick@richnet.net): Have you looked into stock made from things other than trees? There appear to be several alternatives to wood pulp; straw and hemp both make a great substitute. Hemp does not need the harsh chemicals to process, and is therefore much less acidic than wood pulp. One benefit of this reduced acidity is that hemp[hy]based paper is much more stable than wood[hy]based; it doesn't turn yellow and deteriorate. This is good for reference materials (like LJ) that may need to be around awhile. There are also other economic/ecologic concerns that hemp solves. This has nothing to do with the recreational uses/abuses of hemp by-products.

Phil: Yes, we have. We have used hemp/straw copier paper but had a problem with curl. But hemp[hy]based paper is just not available for the type of press magazines are printed on, and is even more expensive than tree[hy]based paper for other types of printing. To me this is a political issue and I am on the side of getting hemp recognized as a good alternative, which should substantially reduce the price. Linux Journal spends tens of thousands of dollars on printing each month, which sounds like big money to me, but it isn't to the paper industry.

I am more socially conscious than most in this business (or any business). The problem is that it is hard to tell potential subscribers that our products cost more than the competition because we use tree[hy]free, acid[hy]free paper and soy inks. We do what we can and hopefully the environmentally responsible solution will become the low[hy]cost solution. For example, we now use copier paper made from old telephone books that (finally) costs less than non[hy]recycled. [We have just been notified that this paper has been discontinued, sadly—ED]

Charles: I've been a subscriber of LJ since issue #1, and I love it! It's very well done; easy to read and quite educational. For the record, I'd be willing to pay an extra $5/yr (on top of you $3/$5 increase) to have LJ use soy-based ink and hemp/straw based paper.

Readers, what do you think? Would you be willing to pay more to get Linux Journal and other publications on an environmentally-friendly, more durable paper stock (if such paper becomes available)?

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