by Staff


Change in Direction?

I am writing to express my concern with the sudden change in direction that Linux Journal appears to have taken. LJ has always stood apart from its competitors by covering diverse technical material that would be of no interest to the beginner or casual Linux user, but is the bread and butter of the hacker.

When the first competing magazines appeared on the market, it was apparent that their audience was less technically savvy people, perhaps interested in dipping their toes into the world of Linux.

The last three issues of LJ have shown a marked reduction in such diverse, technical articles. I was particularly surprised to find six pages dedicated to installing MediaWiki—a job that would take the average hacker no more than five minutes to do.

Conversely, the newsstand Linux magazines have been slowly moving toward accommodating the hacker, with more in-depth coverage of happenings in the kernel and distro worlds.

I urge you to take a closer look at what has made LJ such a unique publication over the last 12 years and strive to maintain the level of technicality and diverseness that is key to that uniqueness.

Jon Dowland

Appalled by Rant

I've been an LJ subscriber for six years and figured I had to reply to your recent /etc/rant [May 2006]. I am seriously considering terminating my subscription after reading this one, and I have only thought this since you have joined on as editor in chief. Sometimes I think these sections are written just to kill off some of the loyal readership you do have.

I just wanted to say that I am quite appalled by your latest /etc/rant. Usually, these sections are slightly tolerable, even though they have no place in a technical journal, but this one certainly takes the cake. I feel you expose your own ignorance when it comes to the AMD64 platform. Before someone comes out and declares all of Linux to be unsuitable for 64-bit use, perhaps he should try other distributions?

There are many distributions out there that will support AMD64 quite nicely, namely SUSE, Red Hat and Gentoo. Perhaps you should try one of these next time before writing such a damning article to an audience that just might be working to improve the situation.

As for your plugin issue, it really is quite simple. No 64-bit browser will run 32-bit plugins, which means no Flash. If you want Flash, run a 32-bit browser. (As for Java, there is a 64-bit plugin that will run in 64-bit compiled browsers.) Due to ABI differences, this is the case. (Somewhat akin to, say, running x86 plugins on a PPC system.)

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Also, if you would like some constructive articles for the journal, I'd also be willing to help turn things around over there (the way it used to be). If these sorts of articles are not fixed/changed, I will have no choice but to terminate my subscription.

I've got a dual-core Athlon X2 here with two gigs of RAM, GeForce FX 7800GT, and one terabyte of storage purring along nicely.


Where did you get your 64-bit Java plugin for Firefox? It doesn't come with 64-bit Java, as does the 32-bit plugin. I do not expect 32-bit plugins to work with a 64-bit browser. I expect 64-bit plugins to be widely available and to work. As long as this isn't the case, distributions should automatically set up a 32-bit browser that is able to use 32-bit plugins (better still, install the plugins too). That's the way SUSE does it. Unfortunately, Ubuntu/Kubuntu didn't do that. Considering how long the AMD64 has been around, I'm shocked that there's popular software (such as Flash) that still isn't available for AMD64. —Ed.

Rave about “The 64-bit Question”

Excellent article! You told it like it was and did it with class and style! Don't like the new look though. Keep up the good work.

Gary Burt

No Kids?

My son and I were at Mr Negroponte's $100 Laptop Keynote yesterday morning [LinuxWorld Boston 2006] and very much enjoyed it. We have been following the progress of the project since it first hit the wire!

The unfortunate thing we learned when we arrived was that LinuxWorld had raised the age restriction to 18 after we had registered in early January, therefore my son was not allowed in the Expo. The VP of LinuxWorld told me that the larger vendors demanded that children not be allowed on the floor because they interfere with selling their products. She did allow us to see the keynote, which was the highlight of an otherwise devastating day for my son. LinuxWorld states on its site that the 18-year-old age restriction is for safety and insurance reasons. That is not what I was told. Red Hat was the one company mentioned about pressuring LinuxWorld to up the age.

Mr Negroponte's excellent talk was all about the children of this World, Linux and Education, and unfortunately there was no EXPO education for my son today. I wanted you to know that the only person under 18 in his audience yesterday is a fan of his, and he wanted vendors to know that he wasn't able to enjoy the rest of the Expo. Thank you for listening.

Brad Fligor

More Responses to “The 64-Bit Question”

In response to Nick Petreley's etc/rant “The 64-Bit Question” in the May 2006 issue, how is it that Linux has an opportunity to be “the first, best AMD64 desktop platform”? Solaris 10 has been running flawlessly on my W1100Z for months. Is your magazine trying to inform its readers and make them more productive or simply sell them something?

Ralph Wojtowicz

Get Off Your Arse

I could rant that my toilet tank is badly designed because LJ's new format slides off of it and interferes with raising the seat. But the blame for that problem would be about as well placed as Nick Petreley's arrogant May 2006 /etc/rant that distro developers should get “off their arses” and give him a better AMD64 desktop Linux. Mr Petreley screwed up. He chose a hardware and software platform without researching whether the combination was well supported in his intended application. That's not the problem of the generous noncommercial distro developers who put their limited resources where they'll help the most colleagues, nor of the commercial distro developers, who have to make hard business decisions based upon demand. The way that Linux works is that if Petreley wants a distro that nobody else is making, it's up to him to get off of his own arse with like-minded contributors and make it happen.

Greg Bullough

Stay Away from Java?

After reading your etc/rant column, “The 64-Bit Question”, you may have finally realized (hopefully) why some open-source advocates suggest staying away from Java.

You see, neither Java nor Flash has good support for running in 64-bit under AMD64 chips. Neither Sun nor Macromedia is willing to release their source code freely enough for those who want to do the work for them. In another words, we can run Java because Sun allows us to run it. Obviously, we don't have the mercy (yet) from Sun to run Java on AMD64 chips.

If we are so dependent on Java and Sun decided tomorrow that nobody can run Java on any architecture other than Sparc, all of us have to have Sparc because, as I said, we've become “dependent” on it.

I am not saying we should throw out Java totally, but shouldn't we be cautious as to which programming tool we choose for our open-source projects?

Jack Cheung

Java runs fine on an AMD64. The downloadable version from Sun (at least at the time I tested it) simply didn't include a 64-bit plugin for 64-bit Firefox. —Ed.

Some Questions

I love LJ and find the tips very useful. Regarding GNOME bashing, try XFCE instead! My questions, however, pertain to the QEMU and User Mode articles in the May 2006 issue.

Is it possible to run the user-mode techniques on my Powerbook (PPC) running Ubuntu, and would I be able to run x86 or other architectures? How?

Also, I installed QEMU using Ubuntu's Synaptic, but every image that I tried to emulate with the commands given in the article cause the wm to crash and log me out. Any suggestions?

Keep up the good work and the good looks!

Brian O'Keefe

Missed Opportunity

I fully agree with your article [Nick Petreley's “The 64-Bit Question”, May 2006]. Linux misses a big opportunity. So does OpenOffice.org. The 64-bit binary for AMDs is still not available, and glancing through Web sites, OOo 2.0.2 doesn't compile on x86_64. Therefore, one needs to install the 32-bit version, which in turn doesn't like the 64-bit Java, and the first time you start up OOo, it takes about ten minutes until its search for Java times out.

Thomas Spuhler

Have Hope

My right-hand man here in the USA reads your magazine regularly. He brought a copy along when he came to visit last week. You and those AMD chips—hee, hee, hee. The IT industry makes a business in circulating slop, does it not?

I just wanted to send along a note of thanks—for putting some gas on our fire through the years—for being human enough to respond when I have e-mailed. That is usually not the case with writers in the IT media.

I have been working away on a vision to radically fix the world's IT messes since 1995. To date, three systems designed and implemented from the ground up (aka Opus 1 through 3), plans for two more sitting on paper (aka Opus 3.5 and 4). Just because the seemingly entire world complains about things as they are, ya think they would get behind an effort to fix it all! Well, it takes other types of preparations to do a project like this—far more than simply writing the code, creating the IP, distributing and supporting it. So in that way we are making progress. Nick, the fix is coming, I tell you.

Nick, you seem to be one of a rare breed—those who are able to use their brains. So, thanks, keep doing so. Probably it is mostly for being able to help, to rescue, folks like you that keep me going—the folks that “get it” about the way things “should be”. Just keep encouraging through your work as you can, Nick, we are out here, trying to make progress, trying to bring the solution. Steps forward are not always easy, not always fast, not always fun.

Michael Lueck

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