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The Mailbag

HELP WANTED : Article Ideas
Submit comments about articles, or articles themselves (after reading our guidelines) to The Editors of Linux Gazette, and technical answers and tips about Linux to The Answer Gang.

Why let Gentoo fans get all the fun?

Tue, 28 Sep 2004 14:46:07 -0600
Heather Stern (The Answer Gang's Editor Gal)

This last issue we had an article about diving into Gentoo, and the response was great. What I'd like to see is some of you send us in some more great 2c Tips! about things that are specific to your favorite distribution, with a neat little description that describes why they're so handy.

People can spend hours surfing the man pages or reading the "get started guide" in their boxed product - but we all know that a lot of linuxers get started with a disc from friends and some simple enthusiasm. So... let's Make Linux A Little More Fun for them :)

Penguinus Advocat

Tue, 28 Sep 2004 15:03:07 -0600
Heather Stern (The Answer Gang's Editor Gal)

I'd love to see an article describing how a company really got interested in open source, a bit of the thought processes and internal changes that went with looking at it, considering if it worked for them. I believe such an article would be equally useful if it described why one didn't, or did, take it on in various departments, and how much of it the company was able to let in.

Obviously, how completely it worked out after implementation would be great to hear about. We see occasional tidbits of this sort of thing offered as "case studies" and so on, but rather few of them have more than a sound byte here and there from anyone who really lived through the changes, drove the meetings, pondered the legal entanglements and so on.

Contact articles@lists.linuxgazette.net if you've got something for us. Get whatever internal approvals you need, and if you decide to make $company anonymous, don't forget to sanitize tidbits like any IP addresses or partner companies you mention, too.


ACPI insight

Tue, 21 Sep 2004 08:56:18 -0500 (COT)
John Karns (The LG Answer Gang)

I just stumbled across something interesting (to me, anyway), while reading Groklaw. I had mentioned in a msg to TAG a while back that I was getting an boot time error msg on this Inspiron:

"Dell Inspiron with broken BIOS detected. Refusing to enable the local APIC."

That's with a 2.4 kernel. I had resigned myself to the fact that there was a flaw in the BIOS, while wondering why they had never bothered to fix such a problem in all of the BIOS revisions that Dell has issued for the machine.

I've noticed that the error is absent when I boot from a recent 2.6 kernel, so figured that there was something relevant and long standing in Linux ACPI support that had been fixed in 2.6 kernels. But now it seems that the kernel developers may have just discovered how to deal with Dell's (intentionally quirky) implementation of the standard. Actually, the whole Groklaw post was interesting, so I'll include it here, but the last paragraph is what my post is about. Note: the general theme of the thread is about trying to buy a Dell with Linux pre-loaded. For more more info see:


I was on a plane recently, sitting next to a guy who claimed to be a Dell senior sales VP. I mentioned I had bypassed Dell for a purchase a week or so before, because they don't support Linux. He acted surprised, and said I should visit their web site. I told him I had visited the site (and saw what PJ reported here); despite a claim to support Linux, it is almost impossible to buy a Dell machine with Linux.

He continued to act surprised. I told him to visit his own website from a customer POV and he'd see what I meant.

Don't trust Dell: they make nice machines, but they are on their knees for Gates. I put Dell in the same category as HP (broken ACPI (nonstandard), that they only tell Microsoft how to get around). 2+ years after Presario release, they have still not fixed it.

-- John Karns


Sun, 12 Sep 2004 14:46:07 -0600
Kevin Williams (kevin from bantamtech.com)


I just read your article in Linux Gazette online on Installing Gentoo, and thought I could help with a few of the problems you have experienced.

If OpenOffice did not compile, you could try openoffice-bin.

I'm not sure if I can help with package documentation. There is good general documentation on how Gentoo-specific nuances work by following the "Docs" link from the top of the home page.

We moved a handful of his - and other Gentoo using readers' tips - into our 2c Tips section, so they're easier to search for. Thanks to everybody who wrote in, especially those of you who don't see your name in lights; many Tips were repeats, and we tried to take the best explanations. -- Heather

I hope these suggestions help. I have found the Gentoo documentation and the Forums to be infinitely helpful. Now this former Windows advocate compiles his own kernel on a regular basis including software RAID and bootsplash tweaks. It's addicting!



Installing Gentoo - 106 - notes :)

Sun, 12 Sep 2004 13:32:19 +0200 (CEST)
Klavs Klavsen (klavs from EnableIT.dk)

Hi Mike,

Nice to hear you tried out Gentoo :)

I wanted to ad a few comments to your article:

Some tips, too, but go see the 2c tips section for that. -- Heather

Whenever there's a problem, I've almost always found the answer by searching forums.gentoo.org - even though the search feature in phpBB does not work very well, when there's so many posts as in this case. I've written a small and easy howto, about how they could make it indexable by google (see http://klavsen.info/simpleurls ) but they haven't picked it up, even though I've written it to gentoo-dev. This unfortunatley means the forums, which are a true treasure of knowledge, goes unknown to many :(

If the problem isn't solved by searching/posting to forums, a post to bugs.gentoo.org usually quickly resolves it (if it's a bug ofcourse, but it you don't get an answer in the forums, it most usually is :)

All in all, a very important part of Gentoo, is the fact that besides, the great documentation, there's so many competent users in the forums and on the mailinglists, so getting help finding a solution (and learning a lot in the process) seems almost inevitable (if ones open for learning - Gentoo is IMHO not minded for people who does not want to learn how things really work - but just want something that "just works").

By using Gentoo I've learned a lot, that I can make good use of, with other distributions as well, so it is a good learning experience, not only in Gentoo - but also with Linux. This same thing is why the forums.gentoo.org should be google indexed, as the knowledge does not only apply to Gentoo.

-- Regards, Klavs Klavsen, GSEC

"Open Source Software - Sometimes you get more than you paid for."

Gentoo Installation

Fri, 10 Sep 2004 16:48:31 -0700 (PDT)
William Lutts (wilebill from yahoo.com)

Just saw your article on Gentoo Installation, by coincidence, just as I was in the process of giving up on my own install of Gentoo. Been working on it off and on all day, finally got the kernel compiled. Yeah, I did it manually. Think I got it right, although the manual does not look the kernel config I was running. Wonder why? (the latest .4 kernel, r9, just downloaded today.)

Then I noted that loading some of the kernel packages like the Nvidia packages may well drag in stuff I wanted excluded in the USE variable, so I should use the pretend option to see what might possibly go wrong. This made me feel dizzy, even dizzier as I looked at what still lies ahead. In my present ill-tempered state, I feel like making the snide remark that so far I have not done anything far as I can tell that a good installation script could not do.

Guess I'll go get something to eat, replenish my blood sugar, and then think about it. I am learning quite a lot ... probably good for me ... but ... what keeps occurring to me is, since I am doing all this the long way around, why am I not installing FreeBSD instead? Keeping in mind that I am starving and the question may not be rational:

Eh ... not putting you on the spot ... but in a sentence or two, why would I want to run Gentoo instead of FreeBSD, nevermind that one is Linux and one is Berkeley UNIX. And both Gentoo and FreeBSD seem to have outstandingly brilliant groups of people supporting them. Just curious.

And don't ask if I'm a man or a mouse! "Got any cheese, sir? Squeak! Squeak!"

Thanks for the counterpoint view, William. There's lots of people, and no need to do things just one way. For that matter ... this may be Linux Gazette, but those BSDers are fellow open source'rers too. (If this makes you wonder where their magazine is, dear readers, it's called DaemonNews - http://ezine.daemonnews.org and it's a good read.) -- Heather

[ERRATUM] How to make a stereogram

Fri, 10 Sep 2004 14:55:36 +0000
Leonardo Della Pietra (dpietra from physi.uni-heidelberg.de)


A reader has written in with an erratum for the article on generating stereograms. I am forwarding it with his permission.


Hi, I'm learning Blender, and found your howto really nice. http://linuxgazette.net/104/kapil.html
Only : from stereograph I get the error message
initializing renderer...FAILED;
to have the stereogram stereograph needs another parameter: the texture width to use; it works by adding the option:
-w 64
Ciao, Leo


Tue 07 Sep 2004 20:45
Greg Bell (gregbell from znet.com)

Hi Barry,

Thanks for the article on tripwire in Linux Gazette.

Hi Greg,
First of all, thanks for the feedback. It's always good to know someone is reading the articles!
A fun and informative chat back and forth ensues... see this month's Answer Gang column for the juicy bits. -- Heather
Would you have any objections if I forwarded your e-mail and my response onto TAG (The Answer Gang)? Heather and the other editors use material from TAG to put together the one-cent tips, mailbag, etc. It's perfectly fine to say no.
Thanks again for the feedback,

no objections.

thanks again for the dialog.

We're very pleased you said yes, Greg. Thanks bunches! -- Heather

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Copyright © 2004, . Released under the Open Publication license unless otherwise noted in the body of the article. Linux Gazette is not produced, sponsored, or endorsed by its prior host, SSC, Inc.

Published in Issue 107 of Linux Gazette, October 2004

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