Linux Gazette 66: The Answer Gang

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There is no guarantee that your questions here will ever be answered. You can be published anonymously – just let us know!


¶: Greetings From Heather Stern qbub-2123596help installing telnetd qbub-2123596touch files recursively linux mandrake 7.2 qbub-2123596Winprinters qbub-2123596your mail –or– Search and Replace Without Breaking Permissions qbub-2123596your mail –or– Kernel Panic after putting disk back qbub-2123596Procmail and regular expressions….(Snowwhite…) qbub-2123596Need to milk you again –or– Timely Samba Release? qbub-21235963d linux qbub-2123596linux vectoring synergy qbub-2123596Why linux for routing qbub-2123596disappearing act qbub-2123596getting 2 dynamic ip addresses

Greetings from Heather Stern

Once again, welcome to the wonderful world of The Answer Gang. The peeve of the month this time is a tie:

  • AOL users asking for help regarding things which clearly would not be answered by AOL’s tollfree tech support by anything but closing the offending account.  

    Folks, AOL doesn’t have a Linux version, not even for SVGAlib. The closest we can get are a zillion instant messanger clients, including Netscape, for which the universal trick is « tell it who you are on AOL, then start IM’ing your friends. » If you can’t figure out who you are on AOL, we certainly don’t know! So, we can’t answer any AOL questions at all. Even ethical ones.


  • Business people who want us to do their homework – asking very complicated questions clearly worth a certain amount of consulting time, frosted with an automatically tacked on « This message is confidential and may not be given to anyone but the intended recipient, legal mumbo jumbo, etc. etc. » message which they may not even be aware of, and possible cherry on top « Please hurry. »  

    Understand we’re not really peeved at the person who’s asking, so much as the presumption. Linux Gazette is for everyone … to Linux just a little more fun … and if we don’t get to (potentially) give your answer to the masses, too, then LG isn’t getting « paid » to pass your question along to us.


    If you’re a corporate type with an outbound mail gateway that adds such notes, and you’re fairly sure your answer will be useful (maybe even fun) for the rest of the Linux Gazette readership, then

    give us permission to publish the thread, up front, when you ask the question.

      Your company will still be anonymous. You can be anonymous too, if you say so.  

    As for « hurry » — if you want a timely answer, or even to be sure of getting one, pay a consultant. (Cheap plug: some of the Gang happen to be consultants. But not all of us.)

We could probably use a few more articles that appeal to corporate users, though! Enough of that, though. Onward to something fun. The fun I took on this month is to upgrade my system.

Oh boy.

Surely I mentioned that I’ve been on a continuous upgrade path of SuSE since early 5.1? No? Well, okay, I admit, I did a « real » reinstall sometime around 6.1 or so, and then have chugged along on security updates and adding RPMs from the latest 6.x branch for a while. With an occasional graft from Debian packages and source tarballs.

Like any normal user I also have lots of different things I do, so my home directory’s a bit messy, I have a few projects here and there, and I haven’t been real prissy about which account I use to download general things like cartoons (Hi Shane!) or new kernel sources into. Usually I remember to move them to someplace under /usr/src eventually.

As Piglet was fond of saying, « Whatta… whatta mess. »

Surely it would have been easier for me if I hadn’t decided to buy an extra hard disk at the same time, discovered that my floppy bay stopped working (p.s. can’t boot from my CD. Something to do with it being a SCSI device in an IDE system), and (eek!) was reminded that we’d like to get the column fragments in early this month.

Of course, I was able to abuse about a CD’s worth of free disk space to cover for this. I made the extra hard disk a feature rather than more trouble by installing the new setup solely to it.

The install went fine, but it wasn’t completely smooth. Here’s a few hints if you’re plotting an upgrade, and I promise, they don’t depend on you using SuSE:

  • Decide how much stuff you’re going to put on there before you lay out your partitions, so you have enough.
    I ended up experimenting with parted after I foolishly made /usr a bit small (Hint: 2 Gb is not big enough. What was I thinking? Oh yeah. My old drive didn’t use Gnome and K desktop. Now they’re par for the course. Heh.) parted works great so far, provided you’ve had prior training with the « Towers of Hanoi » game first. It can resize partitions, and it can move them, but it can’t slide them forward. I had this great wooden Hanoi game when I was a kid, and while I was juggling partitions I could almost hear the wooden clicks and swaps in my head.
  • Check that you’re going to be able to use the same account numbers. This is more of a biggie if you’re completely changing distros, but it still applies. If you’ve created « system level » accounts for a database or something, and it wasn’t a package designed for your distro, you may discover that something else expects to use that number now. Whether you move your own, or decide to do something about the interloper, things aren’t going to work right until it’s fixed.  

    If you can’t, and you’re restoring accounts from a tarball, then just make sure you have the user and group accounts you need already assigned to their new numbers before you restore. Then tar will deal with the number change for you.


  • While we’re talking about version numbers, check that config files haven’t completely changed style during the upgrade. If they have, you probably cannot just drop the old ones back in safely at all. In this category, I got off light… maybe because I’d already gone and upgraded a few things on my own.
  • If it’s in the retail channel, it’s out of date — get your security patches.
    The new version of YaST makes this easier, but I also had a few things of my own to add to the security plan.

Beyond these normal things, I really needed to get some of these projects into directories of their own, so it’s clear where I should put stuff for those things from now on. Rather like ordering the teenager to clean up their room…

Next thing I know the end of the month is approaching, and my dreams of handling TAG at a dreamy summertime pace are dashed again smily-4933602

I still think backups are your friend, but at least I didn’t need ’em this time. All I need is more RAM and I’m set! The weather is improving and I’m having a great time. So here’s those answers — share and enjoy.

This page edited and maintained by the Editors of Linux Gazette Copyright © 2001
Published in issue 66 of Linux Gazette May 2001
HTML script maintained by Heather Stern of Starshine Technical Services,

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