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 The Mailbag!


Write the Linux Gazette at gazette@linuxgazette.net. Send technical questions to the Answer Gang at tag@lists.linuxgazette.net.

Help Wanted -- Article Ideas

These questions have been selected among the hundreds the Gazette recieves each month. Article submissions on these topics will be eagerly accepted at gazette@linuxgazette.net, and posted in the next issue.

Answers to these questions should be sent directly to the e-mail address of the inquirer with or without a copy to gazette@linuxgazette.net. Answers that are copied to LG will be printed in the next issue -- in the Tips column if simple, the Answer Gang if more complex and detailed.

Before asking a question, please check the Linux Gazette FAQ to see if it has been answered there. The AnswerGuy "past answers index" may also be helpful (if a bit dusty).

Article Idea

Tue, 22 Aug 2000 13:20:18 -0700
from: César A. K. Grossmann <ckant@fazenda.gov.br>


I'm trying to use netpipes to implement some file transfer automation, but the documentation that comes with netpipes is beyond my techno-knowledge (no explanation on the options, only some examples). A quick search over the Internet gives nothing (Altavista, Google). So I think a "Guide to NetPipes" is a good thing. Or it is lacking audience?

I think if something works well and there's no audience for it, it might be because of a lack of documentation. So yes, please write the article.
-- Don

Misunderstanding here... I need an article that helps me to use netpipes... I can write one, but it will take a lot of time until I'm ready to do that.

Thanks -- Cesar

Cesar, I'm cc'ing tag@lists.linuxgazette.net. This is the place to send article requests. It will be published in the Mailbag, and hopefully a reader will see it and respond. -- Mike

Your OO Programming articles

Mon, 14 Aug 2000 15:30:54 +0100
From: "Sean Akers" <sean.akers@ntlworld.com>

I have just been looking at your OO programming articles on C++ and Python. Might I suggest an article on Smalltalk as well. As a Smalltalk programmer by profession I cannot praise this language too highly. There are a couple of alternative Smalltalks for Linux, one being Visual Works (a non-commercial version being available for download at http://www.cincom.com/smalltalk/downloads.html) and the other being Squeak (http://www.squeak.org). I personally have not used Squeak but I have heard it is very good if not quite as polished as Visual Works. I do all of my personal code development on Linux using Visual Works. Having been a C++ programmer for over 5 years I would hate go back now.

You can obtain information on this excellent language at the Smalltalk Webring (http://www.webring.org/cgi-bin/webring?index;ring=smalltalk) and at the Smalltalk Industry Council site (http://www.stic.org).

I think is it worthy of serious consideration in your excellent magazine.

Sean Akers.

Free ISPs under Linux

Fri, 04 Aug 2000 19:36:50 GMT
From: "Richard Shores" <rick_shores@hotmail.com>

Windows users can have free ISP access from netzero.com, juno.com, altavista.com, excite.com, freeinternet.com, and others (see computerbits.com, latest edition). I use two free ISPs. They work just fine, considering they save me $240/year. For me and I'm sure others in this world, $240/year is important.

I like using Linux, and would use it solely, if I could get free ISP with it. But the free ISP world seems to be accessible only via Windows. So I have a dual boot system, Windows98 or RedHat6.2. I do my net surfing in Windows for downloads, then mount/copy my download files to Linux later.

Is this the best I can do? Is anyone thinking of setting up a free ISP system, supported by advertising, for Linux? If not, why not?

Linux is a great server OS. It would become a more popular home OS if it could access free internet services.

It's worth noting that he used a free email service to send this in. There's clearly at least some market in Linux space for people who care simply that their ISP client is able to provide the basic services ... dialup, email... and are glad to accept a binary solution "paid for" by their eyeballs on your ads alone. Is America Online ior Juno listening?

This joins a request from last month for free ISPs. If anyone is interested in writing an article about them, we'd accept that too.

-- Heather.

Microsoft Reader books under Linux

Tue, 29 Aug 2000 10:06:55 -0700
From: Don Marti <dmarti@zgp.org>

We need an article on reading books in Microsoft Reader format under Linux. See: http://www.sjmercury.com/svtech/news/top/docs/ebooks082900.htm

-- Don Marti

Replacing an MS Exchange Mail Server with Linux

Tue, 1 Aug 2000 13:16:37 -0500
From: "Jonathan Hutchins" <hutchins@opus1.com>

This is a sort of follow on to your discussion in Issue 56 of reasons not to migrate a Linux mailserver to MS Exchange.

One feature that the MS Exchange Server/Outlook Client ( as well as the Lotus Notes Server/Client) offers is a centralized address book. If I want to send mail to Jim Smith, I just enter "Jim Smith" in the address line. The Client software queries the Server, which looks in whatever address books I've configured, and find's jsmith@region1.somewhere.com. When Jim transfers to the Tucson office, his address on the Server is updated, and new messages addressed to Jim Smith will go to jsmith2@region3.somewhere.com.

This also works for outside addresses, the central address book can have one entry for tag@lists.linuxgazette.net, instead of 10,000 entries in each of 10,000 address books on 10,000 workstations. If your address changes, it only has to be updated once on the server, not 10,000 times, and you don't end up having to write 10,000 people to tell each of them you're address has changed. For small sites, this is the real advantage of this feature. Even on my home network, I can maintain a single address book, and when a relative changes their address, both Outlook and MS Word can look up the correct address in a single database.

So far, I have yet to figure out a way to implement this kind of feature on Linux workstations. The internal address scheme could probably be handled using Netscape as a mail client and an LDAP server, but I don't know how we would handle the external address book.

The only possible solution I've found so far is IF IBM releases a Lotus Notes client for Linux. which they were supposed to do last year. I haven't heard any further than the rumor that they MIGHT release it some day.

Perhaps we could use an article about convincing large companies to release products for Linux. Or alternatively, the trevails of adjusting your comapny's infrastructure from developing only for Windows, to a multiplatform release plan. -- Heather

Slashdot -- win2000 doesn't support loadlin or umsdos?

Tue, 29 Aug 2000 23:27:18 -0700 (PDT)
Mike Orr

http://slashdot.org/askslashdot/00/07/30/078252.shtml Windows ME - The End Of UMSDOS And BeOSfs Over Vfat?

What does this mean to future LG readers who have Win2000 and want to dual-boot Linux without using lilo? Are they SOL?

I glanced at this thread (it's gotten huge). The consensus seems to be

  1. easy solution, don't bother accepting an upgrade that's a downgrade.
  2. if it breaks loadlin, someone will patch the NT version so it works.

Wanted: articles about non-LILO boot loaders. -- Heather

Xlib - example source code

2 Aug 2000 15:24:00 +0100
From: christophe.limbree.145@B-RAIL.BE

I would like to start writing software with Xlib. I would like to find basic source code files containing small examples (opening windows, drawing lines, writing text, …) with their makefile. My purpose is to convert a GUI written in C language (gcc) for OS9 into a GUI under Linux.

Limbrée Christophe

Linux, NDS and ncpfs

Thu, 24 Aug 2000 09:22:44 +1000
From: "Kirkham" <kirkham@uq.net.au>


I understand that Linux 6.2 (and most likely any following versions) have support for Novell's NDS via ncpfs. And that the IPX-HOWTO explains how to configure ncp client via ncpmount.


  1. I could not determine how to configure NDS Tree, or Context. Is this possible? If so how?
  2. Since our Novell file servers have been taken up to NDS Patch 8, the Linux boxes can no longer connect to Novell file servers.
  3. Is there any documentation on how to configure the NDS side of ncpfs or ixp?
  4. Is there any configuration files that I can configure for the above.
  5. What documentation is there for ipx_configure and what it configures. And other ixp tools


    General Mail

    ping ...

    Fri, 25 Aug 2000 15:00:37 -0700 (PDT)
    From: terry white <twhite@aniota.com>

    ... hello:

    couple of questions.

    is this 'list' on-going, or new.

    The TAG list at SSC (tag@lists.linuxgazette.net) is new in that we have only instituted the Answer Gang within the last few months. It's ongoing, in that this is the way we will continue onward, to provide better technical answers.

    what should someone new to this list know ...

    Well, you would be someone who is willing to jump in and help other people. You would also be someone who is willing to visit some search engines and find people useful pointers to learn more about the subject you're helping them with. Hopefully you would be able to write clearly enough so that it is fun to read, rather than scary like certain of the HOWTOs I'm not going to name. You don't have to know HTML, though. That's my job. -- Heather

    Complement to Micro Publishing series

    Fri, 18 Aug 2000 16:01:24 -0300
    From: Bruno Barberi Gnecco <brunobg@psi.com.br>

    Though the series have covered pretty well the "hardware" part --- how to bind, etc --- I have found the software part disappointing. I have always wanted to print some books, but basically for laziness I ended printing in the single sided, A4 format and brought to the nearest copy place to add a cheap plastic cover and spiral binding. Good for software documentation, bad for real books that I wanted to keep in the shelves, instead of in the middle of one of the piles of my desk. Reducing the images by half made the letters too small, and didn't look like a real book --- too many lines.

    I suppose here that you want to print a book that you have the TeX source, or some format that you can output to PostScript modifying the page setup and, therefore, the layout. You may have trouble with texts with figures, since usually the author cared about their size and position. You'll have to follow the #1 law of laboratories: "If you don't know what's going to happen, protect your eyes and tell your buddy to do it".

    The idea is to print in A5 format. If you don't know, a A5 page is exactly half of an A4 page, cut parallel to the smallest side (works for all A? pages: A3 is two A4 pages joined by the larger side). So, you can print two A5 pages in one A4 page, without reducing; and A5 pages are the size of a book. Talk about nice.

    First thing to do is to get the PSUtils package. This is a nice set of utilities that will most of your needs of manipulating PS files. Get them at: ftp.dcs.ed.ac.uk/pub/ajcd or ftp.tardis.ed.ac.uk/users/ajcd. Compile and install.

    Generate the PostScript file. If you're using LaTeX, you can do it using something like:


    I had a problem here: when I tried to generate in the A5 format, the page was cut in half. It turned out that the problem was in dvips. If you have this problem, find the file config.ps (probably in /usr/share/texmf/dvips/config) And add the following lines:

    @ a5 149mm 210mm @+ ! %%DocumentPaperSizes: a5 @+ %%BeginPaperSize: a5 @+ a5 @+ %%EndPaperSize

    Alternatively, you can use the following trick:


    on the beginning of your LaTeX file. Now convert your file to PostScript, and check it to confirm that it's really in the A5 format, and not cropped in the wrong place.

    Now comes the PSUtils. Though Mark Nielsen used mpage, it will not work for this task well, since it will reduce the page. In the PSUtils package there's an utility called pstops, which is very powerful. To do what Mark did with mpage, type the following commands:

    pstops "4:3L(21cm,0)+0L(21cm,14.85cm)" file.ps file1.ps
    pstops "4:1L(21cm,0)+2L(21cm,14.85cm)" file.ps file2.ps

    There is also psbook, which let's you print in large paper with a multiple of 4 pages per side, so you can fold it and it will really be like a book. The problem is to find a printer that accepts A0 paper. It's useful, however, if you can print in A3 paper, because you could print 8 pages in a single sheet (four A5 in each side).

    Diamond Stealth Pro VL contribution in August Linux Gazette

    Tue, 01 Aug 2000 16:02:58 -0500
    From: Chris Gianakopoulis <acg009@email.mot.com>

    I must apologize for passing misinformation about my Diamond Stealth Pro VL video card. I made the statement that the board uses an 80C929 device. I mistyped the device number! It was supposed to be an 80C928. I truely did proofread my mail before I posted it but somehow I missed that important piece of information. I truely understand that incorrecti information is more dangerous than no information!!!!!!

    My apologies, Chris Gianakopoulos

    Linuz Gazette article - Python

    Wed, 2 Aug 2000 19:36:16 -0700
    From: Jeremy Parks <parks@nortelnetworks.com<

    I was moreso curious why Python doesn't have self "built-in" to the _init_ method somewhat like C++ and Java do.

    Jeremy Parks

    1. Because the first versions of Python didn't have classes; they were added later. Languages such as Python and Perl which had classes grafted into them later tend to have that 'self' argument explicit, so that they can leverage the existing function-call code which expects all formal parameters to be explicit. ("Formal parameters" are the placeholder arguments in the function definition.)
    2. Because Python's author preferred to make it explicit in the syntax rather than hide it. So that people wouldn't forget it's there, I guess.

    -- Mike

    resolved problems ?

    Thu, 10 Aug 2000 12:18:58 -0400
    From: molly morris <sevenox@viaccess.net>


    Searched for info on how to make Canon bjc-250 work under Corel Linux. (1 found) Also found $.02 tip re: Netscape

    These are both dated 1998. I'm sure these issues have been resolved by now.

    Usually tips are posted to us because someone found or made a solution for themselves. That's why they're Two Cent Tips. Netscape has come a long way since then, but still takes a command line argument for printing - you could really use any application you want in the "print" dialog.

    Does the "Gazette" plan to link ancient history to today's solutions?

    One of the nicer things about Linux, is that is often happens that even very old solutions still work... even when better ones become available. I've seen means for using bubblejet printers via apsfilter, and magicfilter. There may be a few other things, and I'm certain there's at least one commercial grade print queue program.

    I thought this new- tomorrow Linux community was going to to be a learning curve thing but I've logged more web time on it in the last two weeks than Win (God forbid) 95 in the last two years.

    Well, yes, that's a balance point - more community, so more scattered knowledge, meaning it sometimes needs to be chased down. Combining it back into a form usable by ordinary folk is the job of the Linux Documentation Project, which the Gazette is proud to be part of.
    Since Corel Linux is a Debian derivate, it should be possible to apt-get install magicfilter, then run magicfilterconfig.

    I went with Commodore Amiga (still have running box with Utah Word Perfect) in its early stages and our user community makes the linux groups that I've encountered so far look like Sandbox 101 for verbose Unix programmers.


    Anyone want to lead him to more sites or IRC channels that are specifically helpful to UNIX newbies, other than a few websites I can immediately think of like linuxstart.com or linuxnewbie,org?
    Also: Perhaps when you find the sites that work for you, you can pass it along so Corel can do a better job setting new users up with some good bookmarks to follow in their next version. We'd like to hear about it too. And, last but not least, Linux Journal is looking for some hard nosed reporting on what's really good or bad in some of the latest distributions that are rolling out... if you're interested in reviewing them from a hard hitting attitude, contact Don Marti, dmarti@linuxjournal.com. -- Heather

    Gazette Matters

     Wed, 02 Aug 2000 17:26:17 -0400
    From: Srinivasa A. Shikaripura <sas@lucent.com>
    Subject: Reg. the display of email address on the gazette columns


    I have a sugesstion on the open display of email address in the Linux Gazette columns "Help wanted" and "2-cent tips".

    Currently the pages contain the email addresses in open. This is very easy for the email bot programs to scan the page for email address and use it for building spam-lists and sell them.

    I have a suggestion. Could you please consider obfuscating the email ids as some other web news letters have started doing.

    For example you could obfuscate: user@domain.com to user at domain.com or user @ domain.com.

    I know this has drawbacks. Users can't click on the address in the article to reply directly. This is a minor inconvinience and once the user is educated about it, it shouldn't pose a problem.

    I am writing this, because, once I posted to usenet with my clear email address and I suddenly started getting a lot of spam mails.


    [It's a tradeoff between spam obfuscation and clickable mailto links. For better or for worse, the tradition in LG has been clickable links, and reader requests have been to make more mail links clickable rather than fewer. -Mike.]

     Thu, 3 Aug 2000 20:23:53 +0200
    From: Matthias Arndt <matthiasarndt@gmx.net>
    Subject: Linux Gazette

    I'm using Suse Linux 6.3 as my hobby OS. I do almost anything with it and I'd like to ask if you still seek for authors of additional articles? I would really love to prepare a few articles for the gazette because I always wanted to make a ezine. I do not have the power to create such a project myself. Instead, I'd like to put my efforts in projects that are running. And the Linux Gazette looks like it is ongoing project.

    [We are always looking for new authors. Author information is in the LG FAQ at http://www.linuxgazette.net/faq/index.html#author. In fact, Matthew did send us an article about choosing a window manager, which you can read in this issue. -Mike.]

     Wed, 23 Aug 2000 21:25:29 +0200
    From: DESCHAMPS.terra.es <DESCHAMPS@terra.es>
    Subject: Felicidades, y gracias

    Ante todo enhorabuena por el gran paso que acabais de dar, llevo esperando Linux Gazzette en español desde hace mucho tiempo, es una revista autética y sin lugar a dudas con el mejor contenido.

    Enhorabuena, me habeis hecho feliz.

    Desde España, Javi.

    Un saludo.

    Translation by Felipe Barousse <fbarousse@piensa.com>:

    Before anything else, my best wishes for the great step you just made, I have been waiting for Linux Gazette in Spanish since long time ago, which is a very authentic magazine and, without any doubts with the best content.

    My best wishes, you have made me very happy.

    From Spain, Javi.

     Tue, 1 Aug 2000 12:30:17 +0200
    From: Juan Florido <krypto@elrancho.com>
    Subject: new translation to italian

    Dear Mike,

    I have received a new free translation of the linux gazette article issue 55th, about journal file systems.

    The translation has been made by someone called Alberto Marmodoro,who transalated the article to italian.

    The url is http://trieste.linux.it/~marmo/index.html

    If you want to include a link in the original article to this translation, follow that URL.

    [I told Juan to send it to our Italian mirror site also. -Mike.]

     Fri, 25 Aug 2000 17:17:24 +0200
    From: Jan Hemmingsen <janhem@get2net.dk>
    Subject: Linux Gazette Logo


    I like the design of your logo very much. Did you use Gimp to create it?

    If yes, i would appreciate if you could tell me how it was created.

    [Actually, the graphic designer used Photoshop. If he sends me the details sometime, I'll print them. -Mike.]

    This page written and maintained by the Editors of the Linux Gazette. Copyright © 2000, gazette@linuxgazette.net
    Published in Issue 57 of Linux Gazette, September 2000
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