by Various

I notice your December 2000 cover shows an IT guy as a fat, balding, bespectacled, bearded geek in an XXL black T-shirt and with an attitude problem. I'm most insulted by this stereotype. I shave.

—Bruce Richardson brichardson@lineone.net

Our cover model, Glenn, responded to an open ad to system administrators and was chosen for his expressive qualities.


Lose the Windows

I recently received the December 2000 issue of Linux Journal and went right to one of your feature stories—“A Linux-Based Automatic Backup System”. I was expecting to see something about tape drives and backing up and restoring a dead hard drive. Instead, I see a very brief tutorial on using Samba, cp, cron, and bzip on backing up Windows shares on a Linux hard drive. The author quotes that it's an “inexpensive and easy solution”—he's exactly right about that. I don't see creating a zip file on a hard drive a backup solution, nor do I see this article being a feature story. There was absolutely nothing in the article that even mentioned backing up Linux files or how to restore them. Articles like this and the wave of many others that you have published in the past are a complete embarrassment to Linux. They all seem to be Linux acting in a supporting role to Windows. Come on! Look at the front cover of your magazine! Publish some real articles about Linux for a change!

—Paul Sullivan wiley14@mindspring.com

A Real Bastard

Thank you for your short article in the December 2000 issue of LJ on the trouble with the Bastard Operator from Hell. Interesting from my point of view that I've never felt that my job has sucked. It's often busy and I have had to deal with a lot of bozos, but I've generally been having a good time. And I'm somewhat in the minority in that I did major in computer science.

I do have one question, though. I've just recently (this week) started at a new employer. Problem is, I've run into someone in my group who likely doesn't think BOFH is funny at all. Rather, he thinks it's a manual on how to be a systems administrator. I kid you not. So what do you do when you encounter a real life BOFH? It's serious enough that I think the guy should be just outright fired. I still don't know how he got hired and how he's lasted as long as he has.


Unfortunately, there's no Getting People Fired HOWTO. However, Simon Travaglia's BOFH stories, The Art of War by Sun Tsu and The Prince by Nicolo Machiavelli are all available on-line.


Common Misconception

In Reuven Lerner's “At the Forge” article in the December 2000 issue he states “...CGI has a number of drawbacks...,it requires that the web server spawn a new process.” It saddens me to see that a regular columnist at Linux Journal misunderstands the meaning of CGI.

Even though he defines CGI as “common gateway interface” he fails to continue with the thought. It is an interface to a server. It is not a program. Any process that processes data given to a server with a QUERY_STRING is a “CGI program”. That means that mod_perl scripts, PHP, servlets, JSP, etc., all of which run in the server memory space—thereby not spawning new processes—are also CGI programs.

Yes, the common misconception is that CGI is a type of scripting, but as the leaders of the industry we should be precise in our language and meaning.

—Nathan Hokanson nathan.hokanson@home.com

Ada Boy!

I enjoyed the article by Frode Tennebo on Ada 95 programming in the December 2000 issue. It's exciting to see Ada's increasing popularity in the Linux world. It's because of the language's features and robustness that best-selling Linux author Warren W. Gay announced that he would be porting his open-source projects to Ada.

For the benefit of your readers, more information about Ada Linux programming is available through the Big Online Book of Linux Ada Programming (www.vaxxine.com/pegasoft/homes/book.html). This is one of the largest on-line resources for Linux programming for any language and is a good starting point for newbies.

Thanks for letting your readers know that there are alternatives out there to C++ and Java.

—Ken O. Burtch kburtch@sympatico.ca

Wacky Names

As a subscriber for about a year now, I wanted to say that I find the magazine very helpful and informative. I enjoy the section that displays wacky domain names that have not been consumed by the masses yet. I happened to have stumbled across a web site name that helps finding these names (http://www.namedroppers.com/). Enter one (or more) keywords and it will display all registered domain names that contain the words. Of course, I did a bit of scouring and yes, they are running Red Hat Linux. Just a tip and keep up the good work.

—Jim V. jvanar1@uic.edu

Penultimate Linux Box?

I loved the article in the November 2000 issue titled “Build the Ultimate Linux Box” but you stopped short of actually delivering on the promise of the article! Sure, there are lots of choices out there for a motherboard, hard disk drive, etc., but knowing that doesn't help in trying to assemble “The Ultimate Linux Box!” Knowing that Tyan, ASUS and Abit make good motherboards is like answering the question “Why Linux?” with “Because it does lots of cool stuff!” I hope that you will do an article similar to the one at www.maximumpc.com/reprint/archives/archive21.html but focused on Linux. I think it's great to give the pros and cons and considerations of each component, but then take a stand! Commit yourself to something and tell us why! That is a lot more useful than a wishy-washy “Well, this is cool, and that's cool, and these other folks say that all these other things are cool too, so they would all be good in an Ultimate Linux Box.”

—Jerel Crosland Jerel.Crosland@21stcenturyinsurance.com

SuSe Too Loosa

In regard to the SuSE 7.0 review [January 2001], I used SuSE 6.1 and 6.2. I tried to upgrade to 6.4 and it kept reverting to German with a German keyboard. I could fix it at the command prompt and KDE bug team said this was a problem with SuSE. It's a good program and if one speaks German it has support. The Cal crew [California office] is clueless. I took it off the machine. I need the newer version to play with Star Office and its database. I think the basic problem with the Linux crowd is that no one gives a rat's a** about the end user.

—Paul Taylor ptay1@bestweb.net

I'm sorry to hear you had such a problem with SuSE. I'm not a SuSE employee, but I will say my experience with 6.4 and 7.0 has been pretty good. Definitely no issues with German keymaps. You mentioned upgrading to 6.4. My habit, with any distribution, has been to avoid upgrades and do a clean install. Linux is changing too rapidly, and I think you are asking for trouble doing an upgrade. I generally back up everything (you do have a backup strategy and media right?), repartition (possibly), reformat and do a clean install, then pull back my personal files (e-mail, bookmarks etc.) from the backup. The newer distributions seem to pick up most of your hardware right out the gate, so a lot of that hassle is now gone. Any remaining favorites I may be missing I'll reinstall from the distribution's CDs, rebuild from source, or restore from my backup. This may seem like a bit more hassle than an upgrade, but in the end I think you'll end up with a much more stable system. If all you're after is StarOffice, you can just add it to your current setup. I've done this on two Mandrake 6 systems with no problem, downloading it from Sun.

—Stew Benedict stewb@aysenterprises.com

LJ Interactive

I want you to know that interactive.linuxjournal.com is one of the best features any magazine could have for their publication. There are countless times when I can't remember the name of an article or when it was, but I remember the subject. The ability to have all the articles on-line and searchable is a godsend; I wish more magazines, especially technical ones, would do something similar.

—Sheldon Dubrowin dubrowin@yahoo.com

For better or for worse, we're one of a kind.


Sold on Soldier

Loved the review on Soldier of Fortune. Yep, I'm sold. I want this game. I'm ready to experience the adventures of mercenary John Mullins; this is something—definitely “Games Penguins Play”. I must say the cover to Linux Journal January 2001 was fabulous. King Darius was a real eye-catcher, I hope you will do more covers in this fashion!

—Paul Dale Roberts Silhouet98@cs.com

groff is Great

I am writing to thank you for publishing Wayne Marshall's article on groff [December 2000]. Even though I have been using groff extensively for four years, I still found something new to learn in Wayne's piece.

I learned about groff some years before when I obtained a copy of UNIX Text Processing by Dougherty and O'Reilly. I found it intriguing and poked away with the ms macros for a while until I returned to school and decided that the courses for which I was paying deserved to have my handwritten (and largely illegible) notes transcribed for future reference.

Wishing to “give back” to the Linux community, I prepared a “Groff and Friends HOWTO” (http://www.ucalgary.ca/~dprovins/), which after reading Wayne's article might be more aptly titled a “groff and Friends ms HOWTO”, as it is focussed on that set of macros, and how to adjust them to meet one's needs.

Even with all that “experience”, I still found Wayne's article enlightening, and when it comes time to rewrite the how-to (which it could use), I hope to include some of his insights. Naturally I'll mention his article as a reference for new or not-so-new users.

May I add that there is an active mail list for groff at http://groff.ffii.org/ that I recommend for those with both questions about, and suggestions for, groff development.

—Dean Provins provinsd@ve6cta.cuug.ab.ca

What's up with Ogg?

In my January 2001 copy of Linux Journal, there is an article on Ogg Vorbis as an open-standard alternative to MP3 [“Ogg Vorbis-Open, Free Audio—Set Your Media Free”] The article states that Ogg Vorbis' main financial backer is iCast, an entertainment division of CMGion. However, it makes no mention of the fact that CMGion closed down iCast services as of the end of last year and is closing many other divisions of its company acquisitions.

I was just curious why such an article was run with information that was old news or at least did not include an update when it seems that the backbone of this standards support is suffering from osteoporosis.

I checked both the Vorbis site and the xiph site linked from the article, but neither of them have any news or apparent updates since mid November (when icast was shut down according to ZDNet news).

—Kathy Lynn

Kathy, As you say, iCast services were closed down as of the end of last year. The issue of the article is January 2001, meaning it was on the streets mid-December and at the printer in November. The article's author, Jack Moffitt, former VP of technology for iCast was laid off when it happened and had no idea at the time he wrote the article. There is, however, already much software that supports Ogg Vorbis available at www.vorbis.com/software.htm.


Changes to the Python Developer's Handbook

I just received my February 2001 issue of Linux Journal, and it was great to see a review of my book there. I liked every single word that you said.

However, it seems that the guys from SAMS didn't tell you about the last-minute changes in the book. On October 16, when version 2.0 was released, I called my editors to let them know about it, and they asked me to cover version 2.0 in the book too. Therefore, the book that went to the printer also has an Appendix D “Migrating to Python 2.0”. Besides that, I added a lot of information throughout the book concerning version 2.0.

—Andre Lessa


Frank LaMonica's “Streaming Media” (January 2001)

The calculation of the bandwidth 8000 clients (80% of 10,000) produce is not 30GBs but 300MBs. This amount can be handled by today's possibilities in contrast to the published number. The second error is in the RAID naming. RAID 0 is striping, which is increasing the size (and speed) of a volume by adding them together in a row. The RAID level Frank describes is RAID 1 (mirroring).

Mick Bauer's “Paranoid Penguin” (January 2001)

Bauer incorrectly refers to Tatu Yloenen as being associated with F-Secure; in fact, he's chairman of the board and chief technical officer of SSH Communications Security, Inc. Mick also wishes he had credited at least Markus Friedel, Niels Provos, Bob Beck and Aaron Campbell. He would like to correct his statement that SSH Communication's version of SSH v.2.3 must be purchased if used in a commercial setting. That is not true for users of open-source operating systems:

To qualify for a Non-Commercial Use License, You must: (1) use the Software solely on a system under the Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, or OpenBSD operating system (whether for commercial or noncommercial use);... [SSH Communications Security Corp SSH(R) Secure ShellTM License Agreement, paragraph 3]


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