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(?) The Answer Gang (!)

By Jim Dennis, Ben Okopnik, Dan Wilder, Breen, Chris, and... (meet the Gang) ... the Editors of Linux Gazette... and You!
Send questions (or interesting answers) to The Answer Gang for possible publication (but read the guidelines first)


¶: Greetings From Heather Stern
(?)Can't See Boot Messages Even Though RedHat 7.2 Boots OK --or--
Shedding Light On A Monitor's Troubles
We're still in the dark, here.
(?)ide-scsi emulation for IDE IOMEGA ZIP 250MB
(?)Version incompatibility

(¶) Greetings from Heather Stern

It's been a slow month here at the Gazette, with some days actually being so light that some gang members piped up with "did I fall off the list?" Not so slow that we didn't get tips and threads, though. And not quite so slow that I'm publishing all the threads we got or anything like that.
Readers are being very helpful to each other and I'm glad that the Help Wanteds are popular. Andy Fore tells us that with so much fuss over the Alcatel Speedtouch and its gory details, it now has a HOWTO of its very own (although not by him). Here it is:
I'm glad to see that with enough people's work on tiny bits here and there, we all grow richer for it.
The Peeve Of The Month this time around is some fellow who, not getting more than raw guesses from The Answer Gang, and figuring it out himself, instead of chiming in with it decided to tell us off how stupid and flatfooted we all are, not to mention how dare we ask him for the answer. I'll save you all the grumpy replies. Let's just say that we didn't promise you our rose garden wouldn't have thorns, bugs, or that we'd have an instant gauze bandage (brand-name or otherwise) handy if you get bit. We try our best, when we've got a few moments free. That's all we can really do.
Which brings me to the topic of my babbling this month. I certainly say it often enough face to face...

When Did Your Important Data Become Important To You?

With the sub-thought... and perhaps you should decide what really is important, instead of discovering it in emergency. Take a good look at your own day for a week or two, and notice the things and people that you need the most.
Unfortunately the financial world continues to be slow too. While Linux increasingly creeps onto people's desktops and has pretty much taken root in their LAN closers - especially places still small enough to use closets instead of glass houses and cardkey setups - there continues this persistent and patently false feeling that those free software zealots have no interest in spending money.
Not true in the slightest. If it was there wouldn't be all these shows on our topic, like this month's LinuxWorldExpo in San Francisco ( We just want to get our money's worth when we do.
Take this example. Just last week the news that Linux Weekly News ( was almost out of money - again - resulted in another heartening rush of help for them from readers eager to keep getting their dose of Linux events... enough for them to consider that a web based subscription model might not fall plop on its rear, after all.
Free projects are good, but many of the finer ones have their commercial support avenues too, and not always with the obviosu product name placed in their URLs, either. Berkeley DB has Sleepycat (, and so on. Without noting anybody in particular - I'm sure you all have different things you really use your computers for out there - I'd like to encourage everyone to continue to put their money where their mouth is. Pick up a distro at an installfest, and decide it doesn't drive you as batty as some other distro or OS you tried before? Buy their next version. Like an incredibly cool free software project that never asks a dime and says "we're doing this 'cuz it works, not 'cuz we need the bucks" ? Send something in thought of a thank you to one of the organizations that defend making it easy to pass these things around. The tops on my list are the Debian project (, the Free Software Foundation (, and the EFF ( but you probably already guessed that, and I'm sure there are others.
Don't be afraid to thow kudos in package authors' directions either - that's at least some pay in "The Coin of The Realm" ( If your life with a package isn't quite perfect but you like it anyway, then pitch in with some elbow grease, being willing to fuss with ltrace, strace or waste a bit of disk space on some more verbose logging so your bug reports can be more useful, and even more importantly, be willing to try the new code when they think they've got some sort of fix for you.
Err, don't forget to turn off all the traces and debug stacks when you're done, or you'll find yourself buying terabyte storage to go with it.
If you have terabyte storage and nothing better to do with it, or at least don't mind, consider mirroring some projects that your site uses and enjoys the benefits from. You get a local download, crosslinks, and that's one less chance the project might disappear on you just because some poor fellow loses his job or completes his college curriculum and has to move... or that some poor company who was primary-hosting it will go the way of the dodo and the dotbomb.
And what people usually mean when they say that fun little phrase:
  1. don't forget to make backups!
  2. They aren't bloody well helpful if they don't work, so check the restore procedures once in a while. Go ahead. Grab a spare machine and try it. Figure out if it really only takes you an hour and a half or all afternoon to bring the mail server or accounting department back up if that last power surge fries the UPS and a computer with it.
    (You laugh now, but I have seen a UPS blow out and take the machine with it. I can still smell the burning plastic and hear that horrible squeal. Thank goodness we cut off the real power before a real fire started. Ugh!)
  3. Make sure that you've rescued the human-generated work that goes into a system, not just the grubby details that make it able to boot up. People are limited in what they can regenerate, and people stressed from losing a lot of work, even more so.
Did I mention that we just passed Sysadmins Appreciation Day? It's the fourth Friday in July. ( From the website: "Let's face it, System Administrators get no respect 364 days a year..."
It's a tough world out there, folks. We've got to stand together these days. If we can't all be heroes, we can at least put our own sense of what heroism is to good use.
Have a great August, folks. Now, enjoy the threads :)

This page edited and maintained by the Editors of Linux Gazette Copyright © 2002
Published in issue 81 of Linux Gazette August 2002
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