Linux Mall - The Linux SuperStore!

[ Home ] [ Archive ] [ ] [ Previous ] [ Next ]

+---[ Issue 17
|                                          12th September 99 ]----+
+---------+ +---+      +-------+                                  |
|         | |   |      |        \                                 |
+--+   +--+ |   |      |  ----   |                                |
   |   |    |   |      |        +                                 |
   |   |    |   +----+ |  ----   |                                |
   |   |    |        | |        /                                 |
   +---+    +--------+ +-------+----------------------------------+
                            The Linux Bits: The Weekly Linux E-zine


------[ CONTENTS



If you read nothing else in this week's The Linux Bits take the link below and follow all the other related links. You make up your own mind if Microsoft is telling the truth this time, or if it's yet another in a long line of lies, to cover their butts when they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar.

As far as I'm concerned Microsoft has zero credibility. Why? Recall the "boy who cried wolf"? Same thing. Microsoft has lied so many times in the past. I'm not talking about ancient history either. You'll notice that the same link leads to a review of PGP 6.2 for Windows. Bear in mind that if it is true (and you run Windows) you'd best get a program like PGP to protect your alleged right to privacy.

Microsoft "Spy Key" Threat Overblown
Microsoft denies report of a Windows "back door" to allow government snooping.

If you want to know more about how I feel about privacy in general, and for links to get your own copy of PGP - for Windows or Linux - then go to my website Linux Info Central and check out the Privacy page. Yes, I know, the site is woefully out of date (6th June '99), but the links for PGP still work, as well as the links to the stories I think you should read.

Paranoid? Me? No. Read the story about the Echelon Affair (and here's another excellent link) and then come back and tell me just how "paranoid" I'm being. That's what has already happened. That people know about. What do you think is going on that we don't know about? Are you willing to trust the U.S. Government or any government to "play nice" just because you wish them too? Sadly that isn't the way the world works. Read the stories. Get PGP. Use PGP. Tell the NSA to suck a rock and read somebody else's email!

Note that the current version of PGP is 6.5 for both U.S. and International Versions and not 6.2 as reported above. The link had said that 6.5 would probably be out by the time the story was - it is. I've installed it - just a few minutes ago - but have to finish this issue before diving head-long into the manual to determine if my PGP 5.0 key will still work or not. I'll be doing that soon.

Late News: Just found out about this around 2 this morning so I'm sure there's more to it but here's a link to a story by CNN (hey, we're going mainstream Ma!) about the new release of GNU Privacy Guard. As I said in here somewhere I've just had time - barely - to d/l it and will let you know how it comes out and what I think of it. To me it doesn't matter if you use PGP or GPG - point is you should use something!



G'day all. I recently stumbled onto a book at Amazon titled "" and being the quasi geek that I am, my attention immediately shifted to it. Seeing the reviews from previous buyers, it looked reasonably polished so I busted my savings and splurged US$25 with a couple of mouse clicks. Let me tell you now, this is indeed an excellent read.

As Bill said in the last Linux Bits, this book contains structured writings of all the Open Source "Gods" who have furthered the "free" software movement. The three main deities so to speak would probably be Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman (Free Software Foundation) and Eric S. Raymond (prolific coder/advocate). Others that get a look in include Jim Hamerly (Netscape/Mozilla) and Red Hat chief, Bob Young.

To be brief, each of the writers has their own say and opinions on the current state of the Open Source movement (with Linux featuring highly of course) though they all converge on one central theme - Open Source software development and its ideals, and the implications for the future of computing. Thus taking software development from a minority to a collaborative majority will surely have positive implications for software quality and its usefulness. But hey, that's my opinion. :-)

"Open Sources" is a pretty hefty read so a couple of tidbits here and there will suffice for general reading. You'd be pretty overwhelmed if you read it in one sitting. Moreover, at the book's conclusion, you will have learnt that the concept of Open Source is not just about creating high quality freely distributable software but also maintaining a set of ideals and principles that an increasing number of people are pursuing.

Well, that's my review of "Open Sources". If you are interested in the Open Source movement, Linux etc. in any way I'd fully recommend it. As a tome of knowledge it scores well and more so because it doesn't have the pretentious "jump on the Linux bandwagon" approach so prevalent in most magazines/web outlets these days.

(I can totally relate to that last sentence Dusty. --Laurence)



You'll all have seen xlock in action, the X screensaver that kicks in after 5, 10 minutes of not pressing a key or moving the mouse, and requires your account password to disable (or root's to override). Some of you might even know that if you enter xlock in a terminal window, the screensaver will kick in. But my favourite way of protecting my work whilst I'm AFK is to have a convenient icon on my GNOME desktop that I simply double-click to activate xlock. This in itself is the tip since most will know how to create a desktop launcher, but just in case...

- 1 -

Right-click the desktop and select New > Launcher.

- 2 -

Enter the following (indicated in blue):

Name: Lock
This acts as both an icon label and the filename i.e. ~/.gnome-desktop/Lock.desktop.

Command: xlock
This can be anything you would enter at the command line.

Type: Application
Any command is an application.

- 3 -

Click the Icon button and select the padlock (/usr/share/pixmaps/Padlock.xpm).


In this instance it is irrelevant whether you select "Run in Terminal", but in obvious cases such as command = pine or command = pico where a terminal is required it is essential that you select this. Failure to do so, will hang X each time you double-click the icon.



The O'Reilly Open Source Convention

If you'll recall I had a rather lengthy bit about the O'Reilly Open Source Convention back in Issue 10. Well here's a review to tell us how it all went. Too bad I couldn't have been there to report back on it personally. Maybe next year...

Windows 9x/NT Connectivity With SAMBA

Whether you use Linux at home or at the office, you will likely find that you need a way to get files from a Windows system. Tim shows you how.

When will comprehensive clustering for Linux arrive?

Interesting but kind of "techy" to say the least. How could a topic like clustering be otherwise? Still some might find it interesting - I know I did.



Unix Guru Universe

Now here's a spot you just absolutely have to check out. It's called the Unix Guru Universe and it's about - Unix! Specifically how to do Sysadmin stuff - and yes they have a section on Linux - and they even have a section for beginners... that's the place I'll be haunting from now on I'll bet. Thanks for the link Laurence!

Greater Good

Here's a site that takes at least 5 percent of what you buy at associated retailers and donates it to your favourite charity. Worth a look.



Alan Cox's Diary

Unless you're very new to Linux you'll definitely know who this guy is. Whilst Linus created and now oversees the development of the Linux kernel, this is the main guy you have to thank for the Linux kernel getting better by the day. His diary is nothing like you'd expect. In between informing us that it took him a whole two days to write a driver because no documentation was sent by the manufacturer (!) he tells about his trip down to the local supermarket!!! Replace Tux's head with Einstein's, hide his electric shaver and scissors for a year, and dye his hair and beard black and what do you have? Alan Cox of course!

A Survey Of Web Browsers Currently Available For Linux

Here's a list of all the Linux browsers and their stage of development. Obviously if you know of one that's not on the list then please let them know.

Feeling Naked?

This is one of those site's you'll instantly love. The design and polished feel make it an instant hit. The best site I've come across for purchasing Linux t-shirts, caps etc.



I just did a quick check and Athena has been up now for almost 5 days. The reason for the last reboot? Netscape 4.61 froze the console and I couldn't even get to an alternate console to shut it down. This time I was well and truly left with no choice since the keyboard was frozen (as opposed to the last time when I probably could have killed Netscape if I'd only known a bit more about Linux).

What did I do? Re-booted of course. Reluctantly... but I had to. Then I went looking for, and installed Netscape 4.07. Hopefully the "undeclared war" between myself and Netscape has ended with me the victor. So far, 4.07 has behaved itself more than 4.51 or 4.61 ever did. When I think about the way 4.51 and 4.61 have acted, it makes me glad to know that the folks doing the Mozilla project have scrapped the Netscape source code to start afresh. A very wise decision.

I've downloaded the Amaya browser and installed it, but haven't really had time to "get to know it" yet. But the weekend approaches and perhaps I'll have time to play with it.

I've just installed PGP 6.5 on Athena. There is also a program from GNU called GNU Privacy Guard. They've released version 1.0 this past week (the 7th) and I've done the d/l for it but nothing other than that yet. I'll keep you posted. Since I'm in kind of in a "holding pattern" right now with system upgrades and so forth I'll be spending some time figuring out how to integrate PGP with KMail (shouldn't be difficult), and I'll also be giving some attention to Amaya and probably even try my hand at The GIMP - haven't even looked at that yet so this should prove interesting... especially since I'm about as far from being a graphics artist as is possible to be! :)

I have the Michael Kofler book (Linux: Installation, Configuration, and Use - 2nd Edition) on order from Fatbrain and it should be getting here in the next day or so, along with my tool set I'd gotten from the auction at . So now I just have to wait for the hard drive and I'll be in heaven!

Good thing there's still a couple weeks before I get it really as I still need to actually get, install, and use a backup medium. Most likely CD-RW as I said last week but still I have to have something that's for sure. It's my opinion - backed up by lots of experience - that only a complete fool does not backup their work on a regular basis.

I remember many a time in the past when my Irwin tape drive helped keep me sane. The Irwin drive is long gone of course - damned shame as it was built like a tank! Not like these pieces of plastic you have today for most tape drives. I suppose it's like Laurence said last week about the Zip drive - it's a matter of "feel" more than anything else. The Irwin was solid, the tapes were solid, you just felt comfortable holding it, knowing your data was safe from just about anything.

Thanks to Marcia Townsend from Australia who sent me the link to the CDR FAQ site. That was a big help and I mean that.



If this quote from doesn't convince you that Linux is hitting the big-time, then quite frankly, what will?:

"Red Hat's stock continued its climb today, soaring by nearly 15 points to reach 122.8125 in mid-morning trading, making Red Hat founder and chief technical officer Marc Ewing and CEO Robert Young billionaires ... at least on paper."

- Source -



As of the 12th September '99:

Current development kernel: 2.3.17  (Released: September 7th '99)
Current stable kernel     : 2.2.12  (Released: August   25th '99)
The place to go for the latest stable and development kernel!



Believe it or not, this is only the first third of Joe's article! Because of this I'll be including Part 2 next week and the third and final instalment in TLB #19. Cheers for the review Joe. --Laurence

This is Johannes Drechsel-Burkhard (Joe), a 34 year old IT-Professional from Vienna, Austria. I'm back to give you an overview of the excellent StarOffice 5.1.


Once you've downloaded and extracted the files, you'll notice a directory called so51inst. Contained in this directory is a README file and a directory called documentation to help you out. The README file informs you that you require glibc2. If you're unsure of its presence, it helpfully informs you of how to find out.

Now you can cd into the directory office51 and read the second README file. This explains how to install the package. I opted for the /net option. In that configuration the software installs in /opt by default (about 164 MB space needed), and every user account that issues the starting command soffice for the first time gets the option of installing the user-specific part of the software in his/her home directory. He/she is also asked to configure their mail and news settings. The space required for all this is approximately 2 Mb.

Now you should return to the first README I mentioned (contained directly in the so51inst directory). There is a bug in the Java Development Kit (JDK). The required for Java is packed in the wrong format, and is therefore unusable for the browsers. This is simple to correct. Just follow the steps in README. Note that this isn't required if you're using JRE (Java Runtime Environment) or the RT package (minimal Run Time). Only the JDK has this problem.

Setup your printer with the corresponding icon on the Office desktop. Then try to print to lpr (line printer queue). If this doesn't work and you were able to print to lpr before the installation of SO, you've ran into the same problem I did. You can find the correction in my first Linux Bits article back in

issue 15.

Now follow the steps in the first README to setup a STAR_SPOOL_TMP Environment Variable, which helps Office to delete the temorary printing files. I did not find such trash files even though I didn't setup the variable to start with, but Star Division asks for it so I added it later on.

Note: Sometimes I had to restart the lpd (line printer daemon), because printing did not work with StarOffice. But with other applications it worked. After the restart all is fine again. Maybe there's a little bug there? ;-) The lpd can be restarted with the command su - -c 'restart' (or su - -c 'reload') in SuSE (I'm not sure about other distros). Another remedy (although an ugly one) is to look up the process ID-Number with ps x | less, and kill the process with kill processID, then restart it with su - -c 'lpd'. This should work with every distribution.



A picture paints a thousand words. Because of this I've prepared a few pictures and given links to my server:

Screenshot of the StarOffice "Desktop".

Notice how there's a taskbar with a "Start" button, just like Windows. ;) The application is launched in a maximised window by default. This can be changed by selecting either the "Integrated Desktop" option from the "View" menu to remove the border, or by selecting the "Full Screen" option so that only your open documents and the taskbar are shown. For someone like me with a humble 14" monitor, this is a great option. Both the options I've mentioned have keyboard shortcuts and if you don't like the combinations given you can easily change them.

The first row of the Desktop window contains the standard menus, which just like MS Office, change according to the application you're currently using, albeit a slight change. The second row contains an URL window, where you can address your machine's filesystem, a machine on the local area network, or a machine on the Internet. A nice thing about StarOffice is that whether you're writing a letter or viewing a webpage it all runs seamlessly together. Even though StarOffice is a very complex application, it's easy to get to grips with.

In the left border there are buttons that switch on and off the Explorer popup-window. Here you can navigate through: the Working Directory; To-do list; Bookmarks (Netscape's can be imported); E-mail & News; and in true Windows style, an Explorer.

Screenshot of the Explorer whilst I'm editing this article in the HTML editor.

Below the Explorer's on/off button there is a "Pin on" button. Clicking this will toggle whether the Explorer window overlays the current document window, or the current document window resizes so that both windows fit snugly into place.

Like all good applications StarOffice offers the option of remembering the documents state each time you close down StarOffice.

To add insult to injury, the Start menu just happens to have a "Programs" sub-menu available. Now where have I seen that before. ;) Having only a 14" monitor it would be nice if I could hide the taskbar. Not a complaint since I've been meaning to get a bigger monitor anyway.

I know I've already mentioned it a few times, but you can't help but smirk at the striking resemblance StarOffice bears to Windows. In fullscreen mode I doubt most people would realise it is Linux you are running and not Windows!



All this week I've been reformatting previous issues of The Linux Bits. I now have only issues 11 to 14 to go. Anyone out there who has reformatted HTML pages or put text files into glorious HTML will understand when I say it took me ages to reformat issues 1 to 10, especially since I insist on hand-coding everything! Hopefully I'll have issues 11 to 14 back on the site by next Wednesday so I can get back to the Newbie's Linux Manual. No rest for the wicked it seems...



I thought this week I'd amuse you with a few of those ubiquitous one-liners you see attached to people's e-mail. I especially like the first one. ;)

Oh My God! They Killed init! You Bastards!

Your mouse has moved. Windows must be restarted for the change to take effect. Reboot now? [ OK ]

Yo-yo operating system = Windows: It goes up..., it goes down..., it goes...

If Bill Gates had a nickel for every time Windows crashed... Oh wait, he does.


----[ WRAP-UP


This was originally Bill's piece, but since I feel exactly as he does (and with equal conviction) I decided to add a few things. To prevent confusion, I've indicated my contribution in blue. (This approach is surely nothing if not unique!) --Laurence

For those of you that might have thought me a bit "harsh" on my treatment of Microsoft all I can say is that I'd do the same to any other company that acted in a similar fashion. The pity of it is that there's not another company around that is so consistent in their total disregard for consumers rights.

I will admit one thing though: Microsoft is a "Master of Marketing" if nothing else. How else could they not only stay in business whilst selling such an unstable OS, but actually have their sales increase into the bargain?

That my friends, is coming to an end, and quickly. Before, people didn't have a choice. Now they have a choice - a legitimate choice - and if you think that Microsoft isn't running scared right now then you're wrong because they are.

I've seen people saying that it will still be 3 to 5 years before Linux is a real threat to Windows on the desktop. I believe it will only take half that time. Why? There is already an ever increasing number of computer resellers offering computers with Linux pre-installed. The latest commercial games are being ported to Linux. StarOffice and KOffice are already Microsoft Office contenders, and free to boot (reducing the overall price of the system). KDE 2.0 now offers wizards to setup PPP and your drives, and the Linux kernel will soon have full PnP support.

Soon it will be a case of walking into a computer store anywhere in the world and saying to yourself, "I've decided on a 800MHz AMD processor, and 128Mb RAM. Now which OS will I go for? Windows, Linux, or BeOS?"

Gone will be the days when your smarmy sales assistant tells you "Sorry sir, but we only offer Windows. You'll find that's what most people want installed on their system."

People are sick to death of the arrogance coming out of Redmond. I know. I read it. I hear it from people I talk to. They just aren't quite sure that Linux is "good enough" and are, in many cases, holding off to see what W2K looks like.

Windows 2000. I'll say this: If it hits the streets as a bug-ridden piece of vermin better suited for being swatted than run as your OS, then Microsoft is in deep trouble my friends. And they know it. Why do you think they are delaying it again and again and at least making an attempt to get some sort of reasonable product out the door instead of just shoving it along like normal?

They know. They're scared. You'll not hear them say that in a million years but that doesn't make it any less true.

BTW. Microsoft have admitted that W2K's most touted and most important feature to the corporate-types, the Active Directory won't be fully implemented in the first retail release. No doubt you'll have to pay extra for that just like the cheek they had charging for W2K Beta 3. Naturally they won't call it a patch. Noooo. Instead they'll call it something nice like a "Multimedia Enhancement", or some garbage like that.



This week's The Linux Bits has been brought to you by:

  • Bill Turner- Chief Writer
  • Laurence Hunter- Assistant Writer, Editor & Layout
  • Dustin "Dusty" Yee- Contributor
  • Johannes Drechsel-Burkhard- Contributor

Remember, anyone can contribute and all articles will be included!


Home ] [ Archive ] [ ] [ Previous ] [ Next ]