Letters

by Various
Love That Aass

As a longtime subscriber of Linux Journal I have noticed the beer contest, and I have also noticed that Linux writers often make their own beers. I visited the USA in 1998 and 1999 because our son was then an employee of Intel in Portland, Oregon (now at RealNetworks in Seattle). In Portland, we visited the Brewers Festival, a great happening. My favorite USA beers were India Pale Ale from Bridgeport and Full Sail from Full Sail Brewing Company. We also visited the Full Sail Brewing Company in Hood River, Oregon.

Here in Norway, I prefer Norwegian beer from Aass brewery, and last year I discovered a new beer from this brewery, with Penguins on the aluminum can. Here in Norway we call these beer cans boxes (Norwegian: boks). My favourite beer therefore is a Linux box! So are my computers too.

With my Pine mail program and my ISDN internet connection, I will try to send you, as an attachment, my Nikon Coolpix 950 digital image of the Aass Ice beer can. The name Ice Beer and the Penguin logo comes from fermentation with very low temperature I do not believe that the brewery has a specific interest in the penguin as a Linux logo, but I like both Linux and this excellent Ice Beer, so here are the penguins, for Linux Journal.

—Per Lillevold, Norway

Where Did YOU Go?

Not sure which version of SuSE you were using for your article [see Mick Bauer's “Staying Current without Going Insane” in the July 2002 issue of LJ], but with version 8.0, SuSE has changed things a bit. Best I can figure, YOU (YaST Online Update) will only check, recommend and update packages that fall into the category of security or critical updates. With older versions, YaST (the predecessor of YaST2) did have a mode that was capable of updating other packages. This has been removed as of SuSE 8.0, and there has been nothing that I'm aware of that was fixed to allow YOU to perform that function. There are a lot of users who have voiced their displeasure with this, and it is not clear if this was done intentionally, or if it was an oversight. I've been pretty pleased with SuSE since version 5.3, but I think there are a couple of weak areas with 8.0. I still give them the benefit of the doubt, though.

After coming to the realization that YOU wasn't gonna get things done for me, I found that there is another project (a re-port of apt adapted to support SuSE RPMs) afoot that is in fairly early stages, but appears to work pretty well. I'm still figuring it out, but it does allow me to keep KDE 3.0 up to date pretty easily. Apt4rpm works for SuSE versions 7.3 and 8.0. (See these related links: sourceforge.net/projects/apt4rpm and linux01.gwdg.de/apt4rpm/.)

—Kevin Vosburgh

Mick replies: Sad to say (?) I'm not running SuSE 8.0 yet. My SuSE systems are still on 7.1, so that was the version I covered in the article. Sorry for any confusion or inconvenience this may have caused you. Truth be told, I avoid “dot-0” releases because they tend to be, shall we say, “unripe”. SuSE's “oversight” with regard to security vs. general updates in YaST2 is a case in point. (At least I hope it is. If it was a design decision, I would personally consider it to be a cynical one: as I noted in the article, stability can have security ramifications, and even when it doesn't, providing bug fixes regardless of security relevance is, or at least should be, an obligation of Linux packagers.) Anyhow, on behalf of both myself and Paranoid Penguin readers, thanks very much for the clarification and the tip about Apt4rpm!

Thanks Charles

Thank you, Charles Curley, for telling us about “Emacs: the Free Software IDE” [see LJ, June 2002]. With the limited print “real estate” you did a great job. I wanted you to be aware of how others have extended Emacs deep into the IDE world.

My first comment pertains to using the Emacs spell checker private dictionary. I was responsible for a Software Design Document on a military project. Because all our developers wrote code using Emacs, we adopted a standard abbreviations list, and after merging it with our vendor/military standards list we set it up as our common private dictionary. We used the Emacs spell checker to flag misspellings or nonstandard abbreviations or military/vendor terminology.

My other two comments relate to GDB. In software development, testing is important. I found the GDB user-defined functions with parameter-passing capability to be very powerful. I have literally created test verification documents of my software's results using Emacs and GDB. Also, in my line of work: real-time software and basic 2-D plots of data vs. time are always important. I wrote a simple Emacs macro to transform GDB output into a tabular file suitable as input to gnuplot. Thus, I get quality plotting of results while running my software via GDB within Emacs. Yes, many software development tasks are doable using Emacs.

—Harry Rockefeller

High-Performance Computing?

I noticed on page 92 (right column, top of page) of the June 2002 issue [see Richard Ferri's article “The OSCAR Revolution”]: “Workload management: Portable Batch Systems (PBS) from Veridian and Maui Scheduler (developed by Maui High Times Computing Center).” Many of my research colleagues have been closely involved with MHPCC, and I have spent some time there. We are all laughing our a**** off! I sent the following message to some of my research colleagues:

In this month's Linux Journal (June 2002), there is an article on the OSCAR open-source cluster application effort. There is a bullet item list of tools and features on page 92, but this one really caught my eye: “Workload management: Portable Batch Systems (PBS) from Veridian and Maui Scheduler (developed by Maui High Times Computing Center).” That is not a typo in my e-mail. The article really calls it the “Maui HIGH TIMES Computing Center”. No doubt, the author intended to give new meaning to the phrase “smoking fast system performance”.

Since then, e-mails have been flying. The “suits” might not have much sense of humor, but we folks in the trenches love it. Keep up the good work.

—Todd Torgersen

Richard replies: That was completely unintentional on my part—I really thought I had read that name somewhere, and I thought it was a very laid-back Maui attitude. Of course, after the article came out in print, and I reread it, I realized my error, and I couldn't find any references to “Maui High Times” except for completely unrelated stuff, you know—I hope everyone maintains their sense of humor over my faux pas.

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