Linux Gazette MailBag Issue #17

The last couple of months have been rather light on articles. It’s been helpful to have the new chapters for Linux Installation and Getting Starting to include. So all you budding authors and Linux users out there, send me your stuff. Don’t depend on our regular authors to fill the gap. We want to hear about all the neat tips and tricks you’ve found, as well as all the neat applications your are writing or working with. –Editor

envelope-7322081 Date: Sat Apr 19 07:29:14 1997
Subject: Searching for Information On Newsgroups
From: Roman,

Hi folks!

I’m installing a very small news- and email system at my local university (peolpe there are studying arts, so there’s no one to help me with this). I set up one computer with Linux 2.0.29 which is permanently connected to the ‘internet’ via ethernet. Then I want to connect a second PC which is installed in the hallway via nullmodem-cable for all the students to write and receive eMail. But the problem now is, that the provider (another part of the university) doesn’t give us access to the newsgroups, so I want to set up at least some local newsgroups on this Linux-station.

But I just can’t seem to find any documentation explaining how to set up local newsgroups. smtpd and nntpd are running, but the manpages won’t tell anything about how to set up ng’s (forgive me if I’m just too blind or stupid to find the obvious source of information).

So I don’t want to bother you explaining me how to accomplish this task, but perhaps someone can at least tell me where to find the desired information.

Best regards, Roman.

envelope-7322081 Date: Thu Apr 24 11:44:40 1997
Subject: VGA_16 Server
From: Javier Viscain

Congratulations for the aim and contents of the Gazette. Here is an issue I’ve never seen addressed: the VGA_16 server maintains two monitors (the second monochrome with an Hercules card) but what only works is the mouse movement, which moves out of left and right to the other monitor, and console switching. No window on the monochrome gets focus. Things that moreless appear on the monochrome but don’t work:

  • Xeyes: both eyes are displayed, but the inner dots appear as moving diagonal lines out of the eyes.
  • Xterm: an useless box appears. Xterm with exec: say « xterm -display xxx:0.1 -exec top & » appears as an xterm box with the letters from « top » without any order, in and out from the xterm box.
  • Xload: the « load » and letters appear out of the box.

I think that the hardware absolute addressing is the normal VGA one (0A0000 to 0AFFFF) and 64K for the Hercules (0B0000 to 0BFFFF), which is correct. In adition, this server and the mono server are very buggy when with only the Hercules.

Any easy solution, or is it that this configuration has not been debugged?

TIA, Javier Vizcaino, Madrid, Spain.

envelope-7322081 Date: Sun 6 Apr 1997 11:54:42 -0400
Subject: Initilation Files
From Karl Easterly
As an article Idea, I think an overview of the major boot scripts would = be helpful. The overview could include an objective view of the = locations, functions, and nifty « tips and tricks » or such. Also, links = to how-toos for each script would future simplify the learning curve for = new users.

Another idea would be to do a chronological installations and = customization series of articles. Granted, hardware diversity might be = a problem and could possibly be subverted by starting the series as = though a working installation of Linux has already been installed. It = would proceed as a rough idea like this.

  1. Booting customization and kernel rebuilding.
  2. Xwin customization, to include the type of activities one = would do in Win95 desktop setup.
  3. Getting dialup connectivity to work.
  4. Getting network connectivity to work.
READ  Offre Education

These are just stabs at a scheme, the actual order would have to be = hammered out before the series started, but in general, would be helpful = to have a step by step issue oriented series of articles concerning the = setup and customization of any linux installation.

envelope-7322081 Date: Sat, 1 Mar 1997 15:39:10 -0500
Subject: Ideas for Beginners
From: stephen jarvis


I am ‘the’ absolute beginner.I have had a copy of Linux Slackware and a copy of « Linux configuration and installation  » by P Volkerding et al for about two weeks.Prior to this I had dabbled at dos and wondered(?) at windows.But when I heard about Linux in a magazine it occured to me that it might be fun to have a go.And indeed it has been.

The only problem I have had is with regard to the man pages. In general they are technical to a degree that while appropriate for those who can follow the argument from end to end,are pretty debilitating for the newbie like me.Indeed I don’t always get to the end.

Perseverence will no doubt pay off and I have expanded my collection of books already,to take advantage of the possibility of learning something about programming on Linux.But then I have always had the kind of curiousity that,while not enough to kill the cat,is enough to keep me in the book shop.The point I think is that the man pages themselves are a bit of a barrier to the wider useage of Linux.

No doubt others would say the detail and technical clout of this source of information is needed for those who want to make serious use of Linux.But not everyone who wants to escape from the soporific influence of Microsoft is that demanding or that knowledgeable.I think someone needs to pitch things at the introductory level.In the realms of ‘this will get it going’and ‘try this out’.Merely a more chatty approach would help remove the shiney armour of incomprehensibilty some pages deploy.

If this sounds a little unfair to the many people who have compiled ,man pages it is most definitley not meant to be.There is a need for accurate and complete information especially as Linux is a cooperative venture and everyone needs to have a common root of information.The question is how can the benefits of Linux be made widely known to people outside the existing network.What will grab their attention and take the gleam off Windows 95?Something more open to a wider audience perhaps.

This does not have to be completely bland and overly simple just in the range of every day usage.An approach that does not assume that everyone reading knows the meaning of every term on the page.People need an introduction to the language of Linux in the way that you might learn French or English.Start with very basic things and build up in stages.Don’t launch straight into ‘How To Compile Your Kernal ‘.Ok thats important ,but I am sure most people still think a kernal is what you find inside a nut.I hope you are getting the general idea.

What us new people need is probably a collection of basic texts each about the length of a several page magazine article.Hopefully they would cover the things that a hardend Linux user would be embarrassed to ask about.’The kernal for beginners’.’Great now I can ask what it really is’.If this undertaking was started then I am sure that the end product of a few months could be published as a small book.Maybe you could publish it.I think there is a potential market.Many magazines recently covered the subject of Linux.That’s how I got the bug.

READ  The UPS Howto

Now it’s true there are books already that cover Linux but there are not many on line man pages or magazine articles that give the beginner the feeling that they can actually get their system up and running easily.So if you really want to publish articles for absolute beginners bear in mind the kind of language that is used.

Regards Steve Jarvis

ps.. here’s some ideas ‘ What is the kernal’,’The basic commands to get around bash’,’What are disk partitions and why bother’,’ To Umsdos or not. That’s the question’,’Midnight Commander-an introduction’,’This is the easiest editor anybody ever used(insert your choice)’,’A glossary of general terms you’ll find on a man page’,’These books are a good read(assorted titles)’.’How to get around an info text with less than 20 pages of instructions’,’Why the idea of a free and open o/s matters’,’X is not a horror film’.

Maybe these are a bit daft but they’d get my attention.They are the sort of things I’d like to know about.

envelope-7322081 Date: 04 Apr 97 19:02:21 EST
Subject: Technical Support
From: Dani Fricker 101550.3160@CompuServe.COM

first i wanna say thanx for the lj! great work and fun not even for linuxers! i need your help. for some reasons i have to identify a user on my webserver by his/her ip-address. fact is that users logon comes from different physical machines. that means that i have to assign something like a virtual ip-address to a users log name. something like a reversal masquerading. my ip-gateway connects my inner lan over two token ring network cards (sorry, not my idea!) with the internet (lan tr0 tr1 internet). the masquerading forward roule of ipfwadm gives me the possibility to indicate a source and a destination address. do you see a possibility for an ‘address assignment’ between the two interfaces? if you do please let me know.

dani fricker programmer


envelope-7322081 Date: Mon, 07 Apr 1997 03:01:17 -0500
Subject:HELP with Man Pages From: « Mauricio Naranjo N. »

Well, I have installed the linux toolkit / october 1996 and I have not been able to install the man pages for commonly used commands like cat, ls, and so on; instead I have installed the man pages for packages like, fvwm, midnight commander, ….

So, I installed man2.tgz, man3.tgz, manpgs.tgz, but I still have not been able to get installed the whole support for man; Can you tell me please, what’s the matter???? Any kind of help would be great appreciated, and excuses for ignorance but I am new at this OS (finally I found a true one)


envelope-7322081 Date: Mon, 7 Apr 1997 15:43:21 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Port Mouse
From: Jose,

Hi, Maybe you can help me with this. (I hope) I switched motherboards, from a zeos pentium 90 that used a serial mouse to a asus p/i-p55tvp4 motherboard that uses a port mouse. And now I can’t get x-windows to run. Any ideas?


envelope-7322081 Date: Tue, 01 Apr 1997 04:26:04 -0600
Subject: Linux
From: Tred Riggs

I am a college student attending Stephen F. Austin State University. I work in a Geographic Information Systems Laboratory (GIS) and we have been just using AIX machines. Howerver we do have a full blown linux pc and it is great. {Since then I stripped DOS off my PC and made me a full blown linux box, which works wonderful. We were considering to upgrade to all linux PC’s in out lab because they were cheaper and faster than the AIX boxes, but we ran into a problem. The Software we need to run to make our GIS maps is not supported by ESRI, so we gave them a call. This is what they told us:

READ  Site Internet de Medasys

« Linux will not be a supported platform. They told me that product ports are user driven and there is not enough users wanting this OS. »

I could not figure out how they could even say this when all you have to do is get on the web and see millions of people using linux. So here is what I want to happen. I need linux users to E-mail ESRI at and tell them that you use linux and that there are many more people using linux too. ESRI needs to get there head out of Microsofts world and see what is going on in the real world.

Thanks for your time Linux Gazette,

Tred Riggs

envelope-7322081 Date: Thu, 3 Apr 97 22:40:23 BST
From: Duncan Simpson

Given Micro$oft’s tag line of « Yet another Web server powered by NT » maybe we should collect a list of people doing this sort of stuff on Linux. I can add 3 items myself is powered by Linux The telstar mail service described there is also powered by the same linux box Astra has switch from NT to Linux for its radius server. (NT was just too expensive and no better than Linux (Un*x)—the price diffrernece was *1000s* of pounds, each about 1.5 $ US). Both astra (and DNS servers are linux.

If the stats show that Linux is more popular for comercial web servers than NT, this would be something nice to be able to point out…

Duncan (-:

P.S. Any bets when Truetype fonts can be used for proper typesetiing. At present they lack litagures (fl and various other items that are tradionally rendered as single characters)?

P.P.S. The use of the present tense (switch) is apt because the change is happening now. (Despite a bug that is now not being exercised due to an attempt to eradicate it is more reliable than any of various NT machines at handling mail).

envelope-7322081 Date: Fri, 04 Apr 1997 15:57:12 -0600
Subject: Re: How to ftp Back Home
From: James Stansell

The ifconfig command works, and may be the most authoritative on the subject (except I believe the PPP log also contains your current IP), but the ifconfig command returns a ton more information than I want.

So I ask my machine at work who I am:

who am i
stansell   ttyp6   Apr 4 15:51   (

I’ve inserted your example IP address where my actual address showed up. If the DNS at work does happen to know a name for my address, then it shows up instead of the IP.


envelope-7322081 Date: Thu, 10 Apr 1997 17:08:38 -0500
Subject: Re:GV article
From: Larry Ayers
To: Geoffrey Leach
Sorry the URL didn’t work for you; I recently got an email message from Helmut Geyer, the maintainer of the Debian GV version and he included a URL for a new GV home-page:

The Debian version is in the /text section of the /i386 binary directory of any Debian mirror. Shouldn’t be too hard to find.

Good luck!

Larry Ayers

Published in Linux Gazette Issue 17, May 1997

indexnew-2309711 homenew-8622021 fwd-8433584

This page written and maintained by the Assistant Editor of Linux Gazette,
Copyright © 1997 Specialized Systems Consultants, Inc.