Letters to the Editor

by Various
Applixware 4.4.1

I recently purchased Applixware 4.4.1. My reason for purchasing it was so that I could interoperate with co-workers who run MS Office. Applixware has the best MS Office import filters I have seen, but they are not quite perfect. I found that while text and tables seem to import well, figures are another story. So far, I have only tried importing a few MS Word 7.0 documents, but in general, the figures fail to convert. I recognize the complexity of the conversion task, and I applaud Applix for doing as well as it does. I hope the filters continue to mature, so that I can finally dump Windows 95 off my machine and use Linux exclusively.

—Steve Falco sfalco@worldnet.att.net

Erratum in LJ February 1998

I know that it is late to correct an erratum in the February issue; nevertheless, I think Linux Journal is a magazine to read and save for later use, so even such a late correction could be of some benefit.

The error is in Listing 5 of the article “Attaching Files to Forms”, in the column “At the Forge” on page 93. This listing should contain the following line between lines 2 and 3:

no strict "refs";

If this line is not present, the Perl interpreter will abort the script as soon as the variable reference $userfile is used for write. The uploaded file will be created but not written, i.e., it will have zero length.

—Aldo Mozzi medico.red@interbusiness.it

Answer to User's Question

In the November LJ, “Best of Technical Support” had a question regarding installing Linux (specifically X) on an IBM Thinkpad 365. There is an excellent article regarding this in Linux Gazette, http://www.ssc.com/lg/issue21/notebook.html.

I was able to get X working on Thinkpad using this guide, and the author, Sam Trenholme, was extremely helpful in getting me over a few problems when I contacted him via e-mail.

—Nate Dutra nate@the-wall.net

Eiffel, Design by Contract

Your fine web site, http://www.linuxresources.com is usually the first thing I check on weekdays when I boot up. You have helped me greatly in learning about Linux.

Thank you very much for reporting on Dr. Meyer, Eiffel and Design by Contract. Here are three open-source Eiffel and Design by Contract resources:

SmallEiffel, the official GNU Eiffel: http://www.loria.fr/projets/SmallEiffel/

TOM, a new GPL/LGPL OO language with multiple inheritance and Design by Contract traits: http://gerbil.org/tom/

A page I edit: http://www.newhoo.com/Computers/Programming_Languages/Eiffel/

—Jerry Fass fass@pitnet.net

Linux Installation and the Open Source Process

Last week I decided to totally change over to Linux after reading the latest horror story about Windows. Apparently, people connected to the Internet on W-95-98 can be snooped on simply by typing their IP number and a few backslashes. Suddenly, their whole system appears in the other person's MS Explorer window.

So here I am, scurrying to get a faster motherboard and a bigger hard drive. I am all enthusiastic about the new KDE and GNOME projects, yet when I read the installation manuals—S.u.S.E. or Red Hat—I am horrified by how much totally new and alien system configuration is needed for a new Linux user. The problem is exemplified by the marvelous advertising flyer sent out by S.u.S.E. for its 5.2 release. It seduces the user with a DOS-Windows box packed with a lifetime accumulation of precious utilities. It implies that UNIX clones for these treasures (and more) effortlessly await on the new Linux user's desktop. The actual case is that this happens only after endless installations and configurations.

The open-source concept has been much in the news lately, yet it seems that these installation processes are the one place where the open-source environment is not used to evolve solutions to these problems. Rather, it is the special province of the private bundling companies. Regardless of whether they put their products in the public domain, they are not developed in the open. People seem to believe that the greed of these companies will produce the fastest results, but I have not seen any miracles yet. Perhaps there are installation projects underway in the open-source community. If so, nothing could be more critical to the advancement of Linux.

We often hear people crowing in LJ that some huge corporation or the defense department is now more efficient because of Linux. I am much more impressed by ease of use by the ordinary person. If LJ were to make open-source installation projects a continuing focus of articles, it could do an incredible service to the evolution and spread of Linux.

—David Briars dbriars@sover.net

Easier installation seems to be what everyone is asking for these days. Red Hat is working on it with LinuxConf, and Caldera with COAS (see article in this issue) —Editor

Happy Hacking Keyboard Price

The correct price for the Happy Hacking Keyboard at the time of the article was $159, not $189. Today I cut the price again from $159 to $139 as a standard price. Please let your readers know.

—Ted Abe, PFU America, Inc. tetsu@pfuca.com

BTS Correction

In the November 1998 “Best of Technical Support”, weird things have been happening to Eric Benoit's system. su misbehaves, as do man and less. Scott Maxwell thinks it may be terminal options, but the answer lies with /dev/tty. My bet is that somehow, something has changed the permissions on it and it is no longer readable. Just type:

chmod u+rw /dev/tty

and all will be well. You should probably make sure it is writable while you are at it.

I guess most programs that decide to access /dev/tty to talk to a real user never consider the possibility that they do not have permission to do so.

In general, processes inherit an open file handle to /dev/tty from their parent as stdin, stdout and stderr. The process that opens them in the first place is login which is running as root, so it has no problems. Either that or the top-level program opens a particular real or virtual terminal using a device name which will have the permission bits set differently.

—Adrian Pronk apronk@sangacorp.com

Linux Journal and Red Hat

I have been a subscriber for about one year and I really like the articles. I am happy to see that Linux is stealing the spotlight from Microsoft.

I first got into Linux in 1996 after working with the HP-UX workstation on a job and realizing that you can connect to the Net with any OS, not just Macintosh, Windows 95 or Windows 3.x.

Red Hat is a good distribution and I have been running 5.0 for a year without any problems. I plan to get 5.2 soon.

For all you newbies, I recommend Linux for Dummies, UNIX for Dummies and Teach Yourself Linux in 24 Hours. These books include the operating system and some applications. I would recommend Red Hat to anyone.

—Fred Nance fnance@eclaim.com

VFS Error Messages

Regarding December's “Best of Technical Support”, “VFS Error Messages”: another reason for the failure to mount the root partition during boot is that the root file system was compiled as a module when the kernel was built, rather than compiled into the kernel itself. When the root file system is first mounted during the boot process, no modules are loaded, and modules cannot be loaded until the root file system is mounted. If the file system driver is a module, then the kernel cannot mount it—so it panics.

—Rob Singleton single@nortelnetworks.com

Real Life Business Story

As a system integration tool, Linux has allowed us to prepare custom network file servers which can do the following:

  • Provide complete web-server services (Apache).

  • Provide Internet connectivity for many users on the local LAN (IP-Masquerade).

  • Provide file and printer services for Windows/DOS users (Samba).

  • Provide file and printer services for Netware users (MARS_NWE, NCPFS).

  • Provide complete internal/external e-mail services (Sendmail).

  • Provide inexpensive terminals in both graphical and text-based platforms with the X Window System which can be connected in a variety of ways (Ethernet, serial, etc.).

  • Provide complete point-to-point protocol (PPP) implementation for routing and other remote-oriented operations.

  • Provide a fully scalable system that can grow with the company.

All of the above have been thoroughly tested and implemented. We could not be happier with the performance and continued development of this OS.

—Larry Rivera larrydog@coqui.net

Review of Learning the Bash Shell

In the review of Learning the Bash Shell, Second Edition (December 1998), Bob van der Poel points out that the book examples available by FTP are from the first edition and that the correct ones might be available by the time the review was printed. That should now be true, as I asked the publisher to correct this mistake in October.

—Cameron Newham, Author cam@sspl.demon.co.uk


In the December issue, there is a misprint in David A. Bandel's article “CIDR: A Prescription for Shortness of Address Space”. On page 26, under the CIDR heading, second paragraph, it states:

For a Class C address, this default subnet is 24 bytes long, so putting all ones in the first 24 bytes and zeroes in the rest, we have

I think this should instead read 24 bits, rather than bytes, since each octet is composed of 8 bits, which gives 4 total bytes. Just wanted to bring this to your attention. Great article!

—Bob Cummings bob@cter.eng.uab.edu

Mea culpa—you are 100% correct. Thank you for pointing out that little lapse of attention on my part. Guess I need to re-read everything thrice, because I read it twice and missed it both times. —dbandel@ix.netcom.com

Load Disqus comments