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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.

Stumping The Answer Gang, Take II

Heather Stern (the LG Answer Gang's Editor Gal)

This was going to be a piece about a nice juicy stumper in netfilters. However, that's been solved after all (see the answer gang column about that) and the Gang working overtime has nailed all the medium sized questions. So, I'm forced to reveal a stumper of my own - any readers are welcome to chime in. If you've got something for me, send mail to TAG... if it inspires an article of some sort, check out our author submission guidelines and contact the articles@ staff. --Heather

My hardware is a nice Pentium Coppermine 550 I've had for ages. The Tyan motherboard I have is not quite up to match it - the CPU used to be part of a dual pair, but that motherboard failed and the twins were split up. By not up to snuff, I mean that I have 1 Gig of memory in it, which would suit the CPU fine, and it works, but the mb is only rated for 768Mb.

Still, on 2.4.x kernels it has always been sturdy; on 2.6.x it was crashy and I'd always end up going back. I tried 2.6.5, 2.6.8, 2.6.10. I also wanted to get a few simple objects all happy at the same time:

I get heisencrashes. At times it will lock up for apparently no reason. After my speedy reboot, no disk farts in the logs, no shuddering of a webserver process, no clue to the heart attack. Shall I blame the CPU? Ah, but if it were failing hardware wouldn't it get worse? Or the kernel's changes have no particular effect? But the newer kernels send the boogeyman away - almost for long enough for me to believe that whatever it is, they nailed it. Hooray! I go on my merry way hacking insanely huge graphics in Gimp, compiling kernels or X or whatever in background while juggling chat windows and pondering an article for some future issue.

Of course it'd be handy if I could provoke it. For awhile I almost thought I could... it was more fragile after I discovereed ayttm, webcam support for Yahoo. But there'd be days on end it did nothing even when I played with that heavily, others, pow kerblooey out it goes. One night it was late and I left it at its console prompt (I don't startx unless I feel like it) and it hung overnight. I haven't crashed in awhile (a few weeks I think) on my 2.6.11 kernel - but I *have* crashed this way on it, and I wasn't doing coding at the time, so I can't take the blame myself for that one. The truth is out there -- somewhere.

Now the techsupport type in me says "and, Heather, what sort of Doesn't Work does it do? Glad you asked. I'm buzzing along typing, clicking, getting some work done - or goofing off - and the keyboard's not working. I think my mouse slipped... but moving the mouse doesn't get any effect. clicking it does toggle my wacom pad's signalling light - but the computer isn't dealing with the interrupt. hyperspace. Ah! I hope, I'll just ssh in from the sparc or my laptop. Nope, net's dead too. Magic SysRq? (not that this is any help if I was in X.) nope. dead as a doornail.

I'm going to be adding a serial console soon - as soon as I find table space for some more cords. More ideas, and especially any idea of what to look for are quite welcome. -- Heather

kernels everywhere, and not a dev to drink

Hugo Mills (darkling from #hants)

Suggestions on building an initrd in Debian without devfs?

Suggestions that he doesn't need an initrd if he's building his own kernel won't be looked at, we already have those for him :) I suspect he means building it the debian way.


artical on Spam Assassin

Saturday 04 Jun 2005 06:25
Andrew Hughes (ahughes from itsdynamic.com)
Answered by Neil Youngman (ny from youngman.org.uk)
This is regarding http://linuxgazette.net/105/youngman.html -- Heather

Good Afternoon Neil.

Good morning Andrew

I am a very novice administrator, who has had a Spam Assassin box thrust at me recently. My knowledge is very limited with regards to linux and though I have been searching the web I have not been able to find out how to release quarantined email.

Hmm. Not much information to go on. A SpamAssassin box, eh? I assume we're talking about a standard box with a mail server and SpamAssassin?

Which mailserver are you using? The interface to SpamAssassin can vary according to the mailserver in use. What does the part of the configuration for SpamAssassin look like?

Even the Linux distribution could be a clue? Do you know if it was installed from your distribution's package manager or built from source to a local configuration? If it was installed from the package manager, what packages were used? If it was built locally how was it configured?

I have found the mail, have even been able to discern the contents but not been able to figure out how to get it from there back into the queue for it to be delivered again.

Again not much information. The location you found it in could be a clue.

I assume that you're working from a command line and not a web interface?

If you have a moment and could point me in the right direction I would very much appreciate it.

It's hard to give you much of a pointer without more clues.

Have you tried googling for SpamAssassin and quarantine? It throws up a lot, but I don't have enough information to tell what might be relevant to you. It could be narrowed down a lot by adding the name of your mailserver (e.g. sendmail or exim).

I've CCed this to the Answer gang. Answer gang discussions can be published in the Gazette, so let us know if that's a problem.

Please read http://linuxgazette.net/tag/ask-the-gang.html, which should give you some idea of what information would be useful to help us answer your questions.

Neil Youngman

You too, can join the answer gang! Feel free to mail TAG here if you have some more suggestions for Andrew to try. -- Heather

NERO for linux not free

Wed, 11 May 2005 14:50:00 -0400
Capt Jasbir Singh Dhillon (captdhillon from glide.net.in)

Dear Sir,

Read your issue for March 2005. Came across the lines

Nero, the popular Windows CD/DVD burning software, has recently been released for Linux. NeroLinux is a closed source application, and is available free of charge following registration on the Nero website.

Followed up and found this is not free.

THE FOLLOWING IS PASTED FROM THE SITE http://www.nero.com/en/NeroLINUX.html


NeroLINUX is FREE of charge if you register:

A Full Version of Nero Software Version 6.3 or higher

Retail Version or Downloaded Version

Please note: This offer is not for OEM or demo version users.

As an OEM user you can upgrade for a special discount offer if you register your product.


May I suggest you come out with a clarification for your readers.

Thanks! We'll be happy to publish this in our Mailbag; hopefully, nobody will get tripped up by the original statement.

According to the review I read in Linux Format yesterday, it isn't any good either :) Their verdict was to use K3B. (Or perhaps Gnome Toaster -- NeroLinux's GUI is based on that, so there's little difference). -- Jimmy

I would also like to take this opportunity to say thanks for a great magazine
which I have been enjoying for the last two years or so.

Thank you very much for reading Linux Gazette! It's always great to hear from our loyal readers and have them tell us how LG helps them.

I came across your magazine with the debian CD's ( Woody and subsequently Sarge ). Your magazine collections have kept me company ( Along with all the Documentation available in Sarge ) while my ship has traversed most of the oceans ( Atlantic North and South, Indian Ocean, the south China Seas, Mediteranean and European waters).

Thank you all very much.

You're welcome - and we're glad to hear from you (the nature of publishing is such that you hear more complaints than praise; unsurprisingly, people are more ready to react to bad than good.) Thanks for letting us know!

Capt Jasbir Singh Dhillon

[Heather] You and our Editor in Chief would surely get along grandly - he's sailed a bit widely, but I'm not sure he's gotten to every ocean yet... :)

I've sailed some of those waters myself - the North Atlantic, as well as a bit of the Pacific - and look forward to sailing the rest. Maybe we'll even run across each other someday. Meanwhile, enjoy LG - and feel free to let us know if you see any opportunities for improvement (this, of course, applies to all of our readers.)

Fair winds and following seas - Ben Okopnik

Re: The article "Staying Connected" in issue 115 of the LG

Sat, 25 Jun 2005 10:47:08 -0400
Grurp (bork from deathrow.vistech.net)

When I read about your shell script called "google" I thought that you might be interested in a program called surfraw (http://surfraw.sourceforge.net). Surfraw does what your google script does and it also does it for many different search engines and types of search engines too.

Thanks, Grurp; I'm familiar with "surfraw", mainly through installing it and then finding out that 'google' suddenly worked differently. :) I prefer my own version, since I've got my fingers 'trained' for it - I don't have to think about how I use it, it "just happens".

However, our readers might appreciate hearing about it, so I'll CC this to TAG.


Fri, 3 Jun 2005 10:56:38 -0400
Ville Herva (vherva from ENIGMA.viasys.com)


I enjoyed reading your shell script tutorial - it's always good to remind oneself of the basics.

I did however find one slight error - at least I think so. I've attached two possible patches for it, I can't tell which of them (if either) is correct...

-- v --

See attached kewl1.patch.txt

See attached kewl2.patch.txt

[laugh] I guess I should just be glad that I didn't say "grab a seat, this may take a while..."
Thanks, Ville; glad you're enjoying the articles. -- Ben

Well, I guess that would require a 'while' loop, and perhaps an 'if' clause since it says "it may take a while". But then I have no idea what the 'if' condition should be, and when (if ever) to terminate the 'while' loop...


LG author accepted for Google's Summer of Code

Tue, 28 Jun 2005 07:09:21 -0400
Jimmy O'Regan (The LG Answer Gang)
Question by Benjamin A. Okopnik (ben from linuxgazette.net)


Accepted, or just applied? I didn't see an acceptance list anywhere, although I wish him the best of luck.

(!) [Heather] Apparently accepted, since his blog mentions having a mentor to work with. Congrats Pradeep!

Weekend Mechanic on vacation for the summer

Fri, 24 Jun 2005 20:51:15 +0100
Thomas Adam (The LG Weekend Mechanic)

I thought it'd just let you all know that I am going to be without Internet access for at least a month.

Yow - poor Thomas. I don't know how you're going to survive, poor lad... we'll have to snail-mail you some SSH modulus strings, or maybe the contents of /dev/random, to keep you from falling apart completely. -- Ben

After that, I might have some, but it will be very intermittent, to not at all, at best. Perhaps in October I will have something more stable... I can't say.

We'll miss you! -- Ben

So it means my time working on LG is going to have to take a break for a while. Obviously I'll do what I can as and when I get Internet access. :)

Thank you, all.
-- Thomas Adam

We'll try to keep the good ship LG afloat. :) Thanks for all your hard work - much of it may be behind the scenes, but I'm certainly cognizant of it. Have a great time playing in The Big Room, and we'll see you when you get back. -- Ben
[Mike Orr] Farewell Thomas, we'll see you in the fall. Are you taking a walking tour about England?

Nothing quite as luxurious, alas. It's the end of the academic year -- so the summer, although I am also having to move house for my final academic year, which starts in October. Due to the logistics of things, that's the earliest time that I can see myself being able to get internet access.

Whilst I am at my parents though, they're by the coast --

Ah. The perils of student life :) Have a good summer. -- Jimmy
Have a safe, wonderful summer, Thomas. I look forward to seeing you in the fall. -- Heather

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Published in Issue 116 of Linux Gazette, July 2005

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