Linux Gazette MailBag LG #42

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Answers to these questions should be sent directly to the e-mail address of the inquirer with or without a copy to Answers that are copied to LG will be printed in the next issue in the Tips column.

envelope-8335528 Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 12:33:42 -0230 (NDT)
From: Neil Zanella,
Subject: call for article: wireless ethernet

It would be nice if someone wrote an article on wireless ethernet on Linux (eg. WaveLAN). I think it would make a good article.

Best Regards,

Neil Zanella

envelope-8335528 Date: Mon, 03 May 1999 16:33:32 -0500
From: Pete Nelson,
Subject: Any inetd wizards out there?

I have been digging for the past several months to try and find any way to bind inetd to one IP / interface. I have a machine with several virtual hosts, and had originally intended for only the main IP / interface to respond to telnet, ftp, etc. The virtuals would only respond via httpd. Unfortunatly, this doesn’t seem to be the way it’s working – not only can I telnet / ftp to all addresses, it seems like every inetd connection shows up on the LAST IP interface for some reason.

I’ve looked thru manpages, NAG, websites, and while I know a lot more than when I started looking, I was never able to solve this binding problem.

Anyone have the answer?


envelope-8335528 Date: Mon, 3 May 1999 13:07:07 -0700
From: Darrin Mossor,
Subject: LILO Lock

I have a Dell PII-450 with an STB4400 Riva TNT video board, 128M RAM. I dual boot Windows (for the kids and some games) and RedHat5.2. I use LILO to handle the booting, with Windows being the default. Occasionally, Windows will lockup (big surprise), especially when playing more recent, graphics intensive, games. When this happens, a reset is required and the magic reset button is

pressed. Most of the time, on the LILO screen, the boot locks, displaying « LIX ». A second reset is required to get things moving again.

I’m looking for two things:

1) Possible explanations for what would cause LILO to hang (I suspect the video drivers, but I’ve tried the ones that shipped with the PC, the latest and even the Detonator drivers from nVidia – no change in the frequency of lockups or the LILO hang.

2) Where can I find out what (if anything) LILO is trying to tell me by displaying « LIX ». I have a feeling it’s trying to tell me something useful, if I new how to decode it. And I would like to know the source of this information. I have pretty good luck find the answers myself, but this one has eluded me.

Other possible details: SB16 for sound, 13.6G IDE HD.


Darrin Mossor

envelope-8335528 Date: Sat, 8 May 1999 18:09:51 -0700 (PDT)
From: Ariel « Leon »,
Subject: I need some help here, please!

Hi, I wonder if anyone can help me out here with my partitions. I have a P100 with 16RAM, i recently changed my HDD ’cause it died, i replaced it with a 6.4Gb WesternDigital HDD. When i was installing it using EZ-Drive, the setup program detected that my bios wasn’t going to support large drives so it installed EZ-Bios, EZ-Drive also partitioned the drive into four partitions (right now one has win95 and the others are free)…..when i tried to install debian 1.3.1 the setup insisted in trying to go through the partitioning process but it detected « bad logical partitions ».

What can i do to install linux in two of the existing partitions without losing my data (i’d like to run dual boot). One more thing, the D:, E: and F: partitions have recycle bins and i can’t get rid of them even when formating them, what’s going on here.



Date: Sun, 9 May 1999 19:03:42 +0100 (BST)
From: « D. Lovecraft »,
Subject: Choosing GUI for users

I have set up my PC to allow all the people in my household (we’re students, by the way) to use various accounts in Linux. No problem there.

The thing is the user-interface we use. Everyone uses KDE for their chosen interface, but I prefer Afterstep. I use the kwm login program to allow people to,… well,… login, but it always defaults to using KDE. For the people in my household, this poses no great problem, as that is what they are after. I would like to be able to use Afterstep though.

But try as I might, I cannot get it to load Afterstep just for me. I have tried editing .xinitrc in my directory, and many other things besides, but I cannot get it to go.

Please, oh wise one, what should I do???

Dela Lovecraft

envelope-8335528 Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 22:11:59 +0100
From: « Michael »,
Subject: Direct Cable Connection between Win95 and Linux

Just read issue 41 and read the great article about direct cable connections between Win95 and Linux, I tried implementing this method but came across a couple of problems running Windows 98. (4.10.1998)

I can get terminal emulation (using HyperTerminal) running at 38400 baud but 115200 crashes at the password prompt. (115200 works with xon/xoff using kermit as the terminal program).

Can’t figure out how to get Windows to dial out over the serial line as in your article. I tried creating a new modem using the modems wizard in the control panel using ‘standard serial between 2 PC’s’ and it goes through the process reporting success at the end but no device appears anywhere.

In control-panel|System Devices|Com Ports another device appears for COM1 so Windows thinks I have 2 COM1’s ?

I click on add Dial Up Connection and can’t select anything other than the Hayes accura modem I have on COM3.

Any Ideas ?

Thanks in advance for any help you may be able to give.


I am running RedHat Linux 5.2 and can’t find the ftpserver*.rpm. Do you have details on where I can get the sources/binaries (in any package format – I have the alien script and ar) so I can set up an ftp server on this machine.


envelope-8335528 Date: Mon, 10 May 99 16:05:05 PDT
From: « Ross Waters »,
Subject: Linux and Windows

I am new to the computer world and I only have a 386 laptop running Win3.1. Is there a small linux program I can Install without losing my win3.1. I have 200 meg hard ddrive and 8Megs of RAM.

Ross Waters

(Check out the article, « Windows/Linux Dual Boot » by Vince Veselosky in issue 38. –Editor)

envelope-8335528 Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 13:52:34 -0600
From: Chris Hirsch,
Subject: Netscape Bookmark Window Width

I’m trying to figure out how to adjust the bookmark window width for netscape 4.51. My problem with the current size is that when looking at bookmarks that have very long descriptions they get truncated in the middle and make the descriptions worthless. Is there some way to dynamically size them? I’ll even settle for a static size as long as its bigger than the defautlt.

Any suggestions?

Thanks, Chris

envelope-8335528 Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 20:30:54 -0400
From: « Jesse Legg »,
Subject: Good commercial Terminal Emulation

I’m in need of a good commercial package for Linux and terminal emulation. It needs a *very good* VT320 support and such. Any suggestions?


envelope-8335528 Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 18:01:02 -0500
From: Noel Stoutenburg,
Subject: re: gzipping TWHT-1

I am in the process of switching to Linux, however, I cannot complete the process just yet, in addition, I am in the process of moving, and my linux box is not presently functioning.

I have been downloading and saving the LG issues, using TWDT – 1, and discovered that the last three issues have been gz files, but I cannot figure out how to get these expanded on my win/dos system. Maybe you can point me to a place where I can find out what process to use, and where to get the appropriate software to accomplish the expansion on DOS/WIN. Thanks.


envelope-8335528 Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 18:04:06 -0500
From: Noel Stoutenburg,
Subject: PS to re: gzipping TWHT-1

I am in the process of switching to Linux, however, I cannot complete the process just yet, in addition, I am in the process of moving, and my Linux box is not presently functioning.

I have been downloading…[snip]…expansion on DOS/WIN.


P.S. Maybe you could add TWDT 3, which would be an uncompressed file… —

(Check this month’s 2 Cent Tips for ways to uncompress Linux files using Windows. The HTML file is not compressed and for most issues neither is the txt file. I just started compressing it lately at user’s request. –Editor)

envelope-8335528 Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 20:47:57 -0600
From: « Steven Koch »,
Subject: How To Make A Bootable Linux (OpenLinux 2.2) Floppy?

Question: How do I make a bootable OpenLinux 2.2 floppy? I have Windows 95 on my PC right now. I already installed OpenLinux 2.2 on my HDD. I put Linux (Root & Swap) on my Second HDD – D: drive. I did a Full install & works great. But I can’t seem to boot to the Linux anymore. I boot straight to Windows 95 (with no problems). I don’t know if LILO will work? On my PC (Acer Open – P133) I have EZ-Drive installed in theDC BIOS (my BIOS couldn’t handle the 6.4MB WD HDD). I’ve tried PM’s BootMagic, it won’t work because of the EZ-Drive. That’s why I want to know if it’s possible to Boot to Linux from a Floppy? I tried these methods from a Web Site:

I have these 3 files in my C: root drive: -> Loadlin.exe -> Vmlinux -> Linux.bat (Below is what’s inside of LINUX.BAT file)….

@echo off
c:\windows\command\choice /t:y,5 "Do you wish to boot Linux?"
if errorlevel 2 goto End
c:\loadlin.exe c:\vmlinuz root=3D/dev/hdb4 ro

I also made this Boot Floppy (According to the Web Site) & it has these 2 files:
-> autoexec.bat (Below is what’s inside of AUTOEXEC.BAT file)….

goto %config%
SET BLASTER=3DA220 I10 D3 H3 P300 T6

-> config.sys (Below is what’s inside of CONFIG.SYS file)….

menuitem=3DLinux, Boot to Linux
menuitem=3DWin95, Boot to Windows 95=20
menudefault=3DLinux, 15

shell=3Dc:\loadlin.exe c:\vmlinuz root=3D/dev/hdb4 ro


When I Do Boot With The Floppy In The A: Drive, I Receive This Error Message:

Invalid System Disk
Replace The Disk, And Then Press Any Key

I Take Out Floppy & It Boots To Windows 95. Am I Doing Something Wrong Here? I Did Exactly What The Web Site Said To Do. I Know It’s Something In One OF These Files Or There All Wrong? Or do you know a better alternative? Thanks,


envelope-8335528 Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 12:58:40 -0400
From: Steve Ickes,
Subject: Help wanted

I am currently trying to install Star Office so that I may finally do away with my Microsloth products. However, when running ./setup, I get a script error. I have searched and posted but to no avail. I did find reference to using ‘ldd’ instead of ‘exec’ when running ./setup.bin. However, being relatively new to Linux, this means very little to me.

Any ideas, help or suggestions? I wouldn’t think that this is a big issue. Yes, I am running the appropriate versions of glib and lib and running Red Hat v5.2 with the GNOME desktop and FVWM.


envelope-8335528 Date: Sun, 9 May 1999 20:48:19 -0400
From: « Timothy Gray »,
Subject: CAD on Linux and X

I have a CAD station that is currently windows crippled. I have a summagraphics tablet and a hp plotter which both work great under WIN95/98 (both are old by most everyones standards.. circa 1989-1990). But, I cannot find anything on the net about using a tablet with X windows, or a plotter. Xfree86’s sites all mention mice and never say anything about any other input device. Both items have win/dos/cad drivers along with SCO and VMS drivers.

Is there anything I can find about serious CAD under linux and using my hardware on the net? If I can get this running under xfig I can save thousands and give me one more reason to use my windows CD’s as coasters.


envelope-8335528 Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 10:36:39 +0200 From: Matthias Mikuletz, Subject: Corrupt partition table

I need urgent HELP.

After having deleted a 8gig primary FAT32 partition and reinstalled a 4gig primary

and a 4gig extended FAT32 partition on a 13.5 gig drive the linux partition on the last 5gig

isn’t accessible anymore.

Dos Fdisk works properly, doesn’t show up anything unusual, but linux fdisk complains about

different logical/physical beginnings/endings and overlapping. Also PartitionMagic 3.0 only tells me about a partition table error #116.

Windows95 works properly on the first two partitions.

Can anyone tell me about a tool to fix the partition table (to scan the disk and guess correct cylinder/head values)?

Maybe the reassigning of the extended FAT32 partition has destroyed the linux partition.

Thanks a lot in advance.


envelope-8335528 Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 23:37:13 EDT
Subject: Video Problems

I new to linux and learning fast. I just got one problem when I use startx or kde my screen just shows Black and gray stripes. I have a Diamond SpeedStar A50 AGP card and a ViewSonic 17EA Monitor. I tried the optiond Caldera said and none worked. ANy help would be great.


envelope-8335528 Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 02:43:24 -0700 (PDT)
From: kenneth kenneth,
Subject: Red Hat

Can you tell me where can i find the step to install Linux Red Hat 5.2 ….


envelope-8335528 Date: Fri, 04 Jun 1999 01:31:14 +1000 From: peter, Subject: netled article issue 41, by larry ayers

Zee correct address for Matthew Bevan site and NetLed Program is :

envelope-8335528 Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 00:54:19 -0700 (PDT)
From: Felix Morley Finch,
Subject: Conversation with Craig Burton

I think Mr Burton has a lack of imagination on how Linux can take over a lot of desktops. He claims

Windows growth would have to go to zero and Linux would have to grow exponentially for the next eight to ten years before it would even begin to gain on Microsoft. And until Linux is at 20% market share, no serious developer is going to give it any respect.

It might be so if the hundreds of millions of Windows PCs in use now would still be in use eight to ten years from now. But PCs will be replaced several times during that period. Each replacement is another opportunity for Linux.

Lire aussi...  3.12.11 Getting help

Most people use Windows for Office file compatibility and games. StarOffice, ApplixWare, and Word Perfect already offer almost complete Word compatibility, and games are beginning to appear. In a year or two, Linux will be reasonable for a majority of uses. A few early adaptors will smuggle Linux into offices, its viability will become evident under practical conditions, and managers will realize they can save money, downtime, and headaches by installing Linux.

Internet compatibility requirements, and resentment over expensive upgrades, will prevent MS from force feeding many more incompatible Office file format « upgrades ». Cheaper and cheaper hardware will make the cost of MS software more apparent. Just as MS Works was developed as a cheaper alternative to Office, people will « settle » for Linux for their kids.

Linux doesn’t have to replace existing Windows machines. It only has to be a proven viable alternative when people replace old PCs. Faced with forced upgrades by MS’s short sighted policies, people will choose inexpensive compatible standards-friendly Linux over expensive incompatible Redmond-protocols Microsft.


envelope-8335528 Date: Mon, 3 May 1999 18:30:31 EDT
Subject: Linux and W98

I use W98 for most of my essential tasks and also use it for « GAMES ». I own a lot of games.

HOWEVER i recently started to use Linux as an alternative operating system. It has a steep learning curve , ( at least for me, because I don’t seem to own the hardware that it comes ready for and have had to hunt down drivers on the net, and also learn to install them properly.)

The current state of Linux reminds me of OS/2 when it first came out. I liked OS/2 (I had the 3.0 ). BUT . I stopped using it because there were very few (almost none) programs for OS/2 at the time. I considered it a superior OS to Windoze. It actually worked.But you had to learn how to make it work.

I will be really glad if Linux makes it in the market, Be assured that Bill Gates with all of his money is not going to let an Operating System that’s essentially FREE take over his market share ( probably he thinks of it as his domain). Good Luck Linux!!


envelope-8335528 Date: Mon, 03 May 1999 23:58:12 -0500
Subject: LinuxCAD Reviewz

I think that it is a very good thing that you presented the Official Reaction of Software Forge Inc to the previous « LinuxCAD » Review; the quality of the response as well as the advertising material speaks as loudly as any review could. (Including the one claimed to be « fraudulent. »)

It is clearly important for Linux Gazette to remain editorially objective; in this case that has been quite successfully done. However badly you may have wanted to use a spell-checker, the community will always remain grateful for your self-control in throttling that impulse. :-).


envelope-8335528 Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 20:41:47 +0200
From: Craig Schlenter,
Subject: NetLED security problem?

I read an article in Linux Gazette about netled and the comment about not prepending /dev/ to any of the command line arguments intrigued me so I thought I’d look at the source code:

From netled.c:

char tty[10] = "/dev/";
if((ttyfd = open(tty,O_RDWR)) < 0) {
    fprintf(stderr,"Error opening keyboard %s\n ",tty); 

I’m not an expert in these matters but this would appear to be prone to a buffer-overflow/stack-smashing attack. The fact that it’s part of main() and not some subroutine might have some bearing on the matter as I’m not too sure whether exit() will look for some sort of return address on the stack (and no libc source handy to check) but either way it looks like something that needs fixing …

I’d recommend a

if (strlen(argv[1]) >= 5) {
        fprintf(stderr, "argument too long");
        exit (1);

be added before the strcat. This is especially relevant since you recommend running the program SUID root. Actually a size of 10 for tty is too low as a size since you want argv[1] to be « console » …

I’ve cc’ed the author of the article, linux-gazette too and one of the security mailing lists maintainers who is probably far more knowledgeable than me about stack overflows to shed some light on the matter. Thank you,


envelope-8335528 Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 11:12:05 -0600
Subject: Desktop Users

I wish to make a request to the editor of the LG and hope others in my category will support me. I was prompted to do this after reading mail in your journal. The letter in April From: « Michael J. Hammel », Subject: Re: a newbie’s grief : Erik Refner & Clara Lundqvist: « 

is one such example. (I must admit that in my debut I created a partition with FIPS and installed RedHat Linux ver 2.1 on my PC in 1995 with only few problems. So it is not THAT bad really..But I could not get my modem to work!)

Linux is more than a BIG OS for developers and programmers. It has a great future for ordinary PC DESKTOP users like me. Many people in the world cannot afford Microsoft software. The OS and their Offfice suite is very expensive. The restrictions of a single PC means if you have more than one PC the cost increases. Linux is affordable. One copy of the latest version in a library can be shared by many. In poorer countries this will be a great boon. People will learn to manage with the free software that is there to use. Going on the internet will be easy as Netscape, familiar to everyone is available. A simple x-based email client allowing multiple users will be all that is needed, as Netscape does not allow multiple addresses on the same PC. Also viruses are not a problem in linux, as yet!!! 🙂 I read in the news in lg that Corel was going to build a desktop PC version for ordinary PC users in MAY lg news…

« Ottawa, Canada – April 21, 1999 – Corel Corporation (NASDAQ: COSFF, TSE: COS) today announced an alliance with two major Open Source developer communities to advance the development of its proposed Linux distribution; a user-friendly Linux installation and graphical user interface (GUI) for the desktop PC. »

But this may be costly. In the April news there was some hope… « Project Independence: Linux for the Masses, « 

Therefore my request. Could you please reserve a little section of your lg for simple desktop uses of Linux, as opposed to programmers, LAN users, Server users etc.? News as well as software reviews specially of value to us could be great! Thanks

Nandalal Gunaratne

(I’d be happy to have deskopt uses included. Anyone who submits this type of article can be assured that we will post it. –Editor)

envelope-8335528 Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 16:53:53 -0400
From: Larry Kollar,
Subject: Re: KDE is bloated and slow (not)

I keep hearing all this stuff about KDE is bloated, KDE is slow, KDE put a nasty stain on my favorite T-shirt and I can’t get it clean, you get the idea….

I run Linux part-time on a Mac G3/266 (the beige box, « only » 32MB of RAM), with KDE as my standard GUI, and I don’t see what people are complaining about. Maybe I’d feel different if I had to run it on a Pentium, or on a Mac IIsi running NetBSD or Linux-68k, but KDE responds well to decent hardware. I recently updated from a beta to 1.1, and it does feel a bit snappier.

I’ll admit to shutting down X to compile large projects, but only because of my current RAM limits. Once I add more RAM, I’ll probably change the runlevel to 5 and have X + KDE running all the time.

Besides, my wife would kill -9 me if I removed KDE — she learned how to boot into Linux & start X just so she can play kmahjongg and a couple of the other games. This by itself is a reason to have KDE available; you can spend a few minutes showing newbies a comfortable interface and blunt the irrational fear of not-Windows.

Looking for a 3-button ADB mouse,


envelope-8335528 Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 14:52:06 +0200
From: Roger Subject: MTBF for Craig Burton

Craig Burton said « Show me the MTBF figures »

I am used to a hardware background, where we calculate MTBF figures before releasing systems. If nothing else, they give a rougth guide to how many spares you need;-)

BUT, basicly speaking, this calculation is done by taking an MTBF figure for each element (This type of component employed in this manner has this MTBF), which are text book figures derived from statistical analysis, and then you add them all together.

This means if system A has 10 widgets and 6 doofas, whilst system B has 15 widgets and 12 doofas, then system A will have a much lower MTBF.

It may seem a harsh way to calculate reliability, but generaly speaking it works, and one always regards system reliability as being inversely proportional to system complexity. Most of us are not able to review the NT source, but it is believed to be far more complex than Linux, which would suggest that the MTBF is proportionatlely lowwer.

Of course in software there are many other parameters, but nontheless complexity is a major parameter. Another biggie is the language used for development, C programming is far more vulnerable than higher level languages for obscure bugs such as memory leaks, but for performance reasons so low level languages are considered essential for OS work, and so both have the same vulnerability (in fact one can easily find disaster tales of e.g. memory leaks on both platforms).

Another major factor is using tried and trusted methods (or re-using well proven code). Much of the reason for NT’s additional complexity is that it has to support so many MS invented protocols designed to render it incompatible with the rest of the world. This is particularly so when one get’s out of kernel space into userland, Linux makes heavy (re)use of legacy *nix software such as sendmail which has a very long history.

In a nutshell, there are sound scientific arguments as to why Linux may be more relaible than NT, indeed one of Linus’s rallying cries is to keep things simple, and he resists attempts to over complicate the kernel. MS (IMHO) appear to have tied themselves in knots with all thier attempts to do things in a proprietry manner.

I think Craigs comments that imply that people who say Linux never goes down are talking shit and are just Linux worshippers are a bit excessive. Of course Linux does go down, but these people are just reflecting a common appearence that Linux boxes do seem to go months before re-boots (so one forgets when one last re-booted), wheras NT reboots tend to be common enougth to be frustrating (…but we re-booted just a couple of weeks ago). It is a subtle difference, but Linux by being a little better appears to cross the memory threshold.

All I will add is that at work I use both a Linux and NT server, neither are particularly loaded, and both are doing file and print sharing (allthougth the Linux box does handle a mega printer which often has 100’s of megabytes in the queue, it was moved from the NT box because it did not work there). The Linux box has only ever gone down during power outages (no UPS), whilst the NT box (which does has a UPS), has gone down several times in the two year period I have been in this environment. Note that the Linux server was just loaded and set up on the fly by ourselves, whilst the NT box was set up, and is maintained, by an outside firm with MS certified personel.

Am I a religious nut for pointing this out?

I think Craigs comments that imply that people who say Linux never goes down are talking shit and are just Linux worshippers are a bit excessive. Of course Linux does go down, but these people are just reflecting a common appearence that Linux boxes do seem to go months before re-boots (so one forgets when one last re-booted), wheras NT reboots tend to be common enougth to be frustrating (…but we re-booted just a couple of weeks ago). It is a subtle difference, but Linux by being a little better appears to cross the memory threshold.

— Bye for now, And watch out for those low flying Penguins…….


Published in Linux Gazette Issue 42, June 1999

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