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Help Wanted -- Article Ideas

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.

Before asking a question, please check the new Linux Gazette FAQ to see if it has been answered there.

 Sun, 05 Sep 1999 04:09:46 PDT
From: <javafun@excite.com>
Subject: Linux in Algeria

I would like to thank all people who replied to me

I am a third world LINUX user, in my country there is only windoze as an OS, none know about the advantages of LINUX, now I am going to set up a web site about LINUX so help me please, any printed magazine, books, free cd-rom will be a great help. actually my video card is an SIS 5597 so please if any one who can send me a free LINUX distribution( especially RH 6 it's easy to install, I have RH5.1)with XFREE86 3.3.1 to support my video card.

sorry for my silly english, and keep the good work

friendly mimoune

my address is:
MR djouallah mimoune
ENTP garidi, vieux kouba algiers cp 05600

 Sun, 12 Sep 1999 15:18:59 -0400
From: Jim Bruer <jbruer@flashcom.net>
Subject: Postfix article

I just installed Postfix on Suse 6.1. It seems a much easier mailer to install than any of the others I've read about in your recent issues (which were great btw). There is an active newsgroup and the author of the program responds VERY fast to stupid newbie questions. I speak from experience : ) From debian newsgroup postings it appears that Postfix is going to become their standard. Check it out, I'd love to see an article on it since I'm trying to move beyond the newbie stage and really understand this whole mail business.

 Sun, 12 Sep 1999 22:00:49 +0200 (CEST)
From: <chimbis@skjoldebrand.org>
Subject: VPN and Firewall with Linux


We are considering investing in a firewall and VPN for our network at work (a 3rd world aid organisation). We haven't deemed it necessary until now when we will upgrade to Novell Netware 5 which is mainly TCP/IP-based. We have funds for investing in Novell BorderManager as well.

However, we have been talking about having our own DNS server as well as firewall. Also we would like to be able to connect our offices around the world to the network by VPN. BorderManager has all these facilities but for a price. Is there some comprehensive Linux source (written, on-line, software) about these issues. Even a list of HOWTOs would be OK.

Martin Sjödebrand

[Would somebody like to write an article about connecting several local networks securely over the Internet? There must be some Gazette readers who have such a network running in their office. -Ed.]

 Thu, 9 Sep 1999 22:24:11 -0700
From: Lic. Manuel Nivar <mm.guzman@codetel.net.do>
Subject: Descompiler

Hi, My name is Manuel Nivar I dont know how to install a script for irc.chat because I don know how to descompiler. Please Help me.

The Linux Gazette Editor wrote:

Hi. This will be published in the October Gazette. I don't use IRC, so I'm afraid I can't personally offer any suggestions. What does "descompiler" mean? Do you mean you can't compile the program?

Manuel replied:

Yes I dont know how to descompiler

[I'm still hoping somebody will write some articles about IRC. It is certainly a popular topic among Gazette readers. -Ed.]

 Thu, 02 Sep 1999 00:48:42 -0400
From: Leslie Joyce <blumagic@bellatlantic.net>
Subject: Printing lines of black


As a newbie to linux,I am having a several problems with getting linux to work properly,mainly now, I am having a problem with my printer HP 693C. I can print, but on every line of copy(words)after the sentence ends,I get a line of solid black .As I am dual booting and my printer works in Win95,I am thinking this is a linux driver problem.I am using the 550 C driver. I am using Caldera 2.2 I used the graphical interface to install the printer . Any thoughts,guesses or ideas as to where to go to find a solution?

Thanks for your time and help

 Fri, 3 Sep 1999 10:30:24 +1000
From: Binjala <binjala@hinet.net.au>
Subject: Winmodems

It wasn't until I had my own version of MS Windoze -albeit someone else has the registration, disc etc- that I realised how much I'd like to use something else... the I was shown linux, so Ive got RedHat, but now I find I've got Winmodem, Eagle 1740 AGP VGA Card, and Creative Labs Sound Blaster PCI64. I realise the modem sucks, where can I find if the others are compatible? Are they compatible? Can you recommend a replacement 56K modem? The guy who built this box for me has never used Linux, so he's not very useful. Help!


[Any modem except a winmodem should work fine. If it says it works with DOS and/or Macintosh as well as Windows, it should be OK.

See the Hardware Compatibility HOWTO for details.

An index of all the HOWTOs is at www.ssc.com/mirrors/LDP/HOWTO/HOWTO-INDEX-3.html#ss3.1 -Ed.]

 Fri, 03 Sep 1999 12:44:59 +0800
From: Jeff Bhavnanie <jeff@c-a-s-h.com>
Subject: compling network driver.

I've got the source code for my network card (SiS900), when I issue the compile command as described in the docs, i get no errors and the *.o file is created. When I issue 'insmod sis900.o' i get a list of errors. I'm a complete newbie at compiling things.

Can anyone else compile the source into object file for me? I'm running Mandrake 6.0.


 Fri, 03 Sep 1999 11:06:14 +0000
From: Pepijn Schmitz <p.schmitz@xpuntx.nl>
Subject: Help: printing problem.


I'm having trouble getting a Solaris box to print on my Linux print server. The Linux box has a printer set up that prints to a Netware network printer. This works, I can print from Netscape, Star Office, etc. I've set up a network printer on a Solaris 7 machine that prints to this machine. This also works, for text files. But when I try to print a page from Netscape, nothing happens, and the following appears in my messages file (maas is my Linux machine with the Netware printer, amazone.xpuntx.nl is the Solaris machine):

Sep  3 12:55:18 maas lpd[9788]: amazone.xpuntx.nl requests recvjob lp
Sep  3 12:55:18 maas lpd[9788]: tfA001amazone.xpuntx.nl: File exists
Sep  3 12:55:18 maas lpd[9789]: amazone.xpuntx.nl requests recvjob lp
Sep  3 12:55:18 maas lpd[9789]: tfA001amazone.xpuntx.nl: File exists

This repeats itself every minute. I checked, and the tfA001amazone.xpuntx.nl file really does not exist anywhere on my system. There is a cfA001amazone.xpuntx.nl file in /var/spool/lpd/lp however, and if I remove this file the next time around it says this in the messages file:

Sep  3 13:00:27 maas lpd[9854]: amazone.xpuntx.nl requests recvjob lp
Sep  3 13:00:27 maas lpd[9855]: amazone.xpuntx.nl requests recvjob lp
Sep  3 13:00:27 maas lpd[9855]: readfile: : illegal path name: File

This happens once. The next minute the four lines I gave earlier reappear, and the cfA001amazone.xpuntx.nl file has reappeared.

I hope someone can help me out here, this has got me stumped! Thanks in advance for anyone who can shed some light...

Pepijn Schmitz

 Fri, 3 Sep 1999 11:36:57 -0400 (EDT)
From: Tim <ice@bigfoot.com>
Subject: 2gig file size limit?

I have a box on my network running RedHat 6.0 (x86) that is going to be used primarily for backing up large database files. These files are presently 25 gigs in size. While attempting a backup over Samba, I realized that the file system would not allow me to write a file > 2gig to disk. I tried using an large file system patch for kernel 2.2.9, but that only allowed me to write 16 gigs, and it seemed buggy when it was doing that even. Doing an 'ls -l' would show me that the file size of the backup was about 4 gig, but the total blocks in the directory with no other files there indicated a much higher number like so:

[root@backup ]# ls -l
total 16909071
-rwxr--r--   1 ntuser   ntuser   4294967295 Sep  2 19:45 file.DAT

I am well aware that a 64 bit system would be the best solution at this point, but unfortunately i do not have those resources. I know BSDi can write files this big, as well as NT on 32 bit systems.. i am left wondering, why can't linux?

Thanks in advance.

 Fri, 3 Sep 1999 18:03:22 +0200
From: Service Data <basciuv@tin.it>
Subject: Linux.

È possibile sapere qual'è l'ultima versione di linux in comercio? È possibile che sia uscita la versione 6.2?

Attendo Vs. risposta Grazie.

[Hi. Sorry, I don't speak Italian. "Linux" technically refers only to the kernel. The kernel is at version 2.2.12. We track the kernel version on the Linux Journal home page, www.linuxjournal.com. The original site is www.kernel.org.

The distribution you buy in a store contains not just the Linux kernel, but a lot of software from a lot of sources. Each distribution has its own numbering system. RedHat is at 6.0. SuSE just released 6.2. The other distributions have other numbers. We list the versions of the major distributions at www.linuxjournal.com, "How to Get Linux".

There are Italian speakers who read the Gazette; perhaps they can give a better answer than this. -Ed.]

 Sat, 4 Sep 1999 08:35:51 +0530
From: A.PADMANARAYANAN <semco@vsnl.com>
Subject: Reading Linux partitions from NT

Dear sir, can you please tell me how can i access linux partitions from windows NT or 98? is it possible? please help me or point me to any resources man pages or URLs i will work on it!

Thanks in advance!
Pune, India

[There is a Windows 95 tool to do this, but I have forgotten its name. It wasn't in a very advanced stage the last time I looked at it. It would be easier to go the other way and have Linux mount your Windows partitions and copy the files there so that Windows can see them. Run "man mount" for details. -Ed.]

 Sat, 4 Sep 1999 21:40:47 +0530
From: Joseph Bill E.V <bill@md4.vsnl.net.in>
Subject: Chat server

Dear sir,
Is there any chat server for linux users to share their views


 Sat, 11 Sep 1999 12:55:54 -0600
From: Daniel Silverman <argent@mcn.net>
Subject: Linux Internet forums

Do you know of any Linux internet forums? If you do, I will be very grateful for their urls.

 Sun, 05 Sep 1999 02:34:41 -0300
From: Erik Fleischer <ferik@iname.com>
Subject: How to prevent remote logins as root

For security reasons, I would like to make it impossible for anyone logging in remotely (via telnet etc.) to log in as root, but so far haven't been able to figure out how to do that. Any suggestions?

 Sun, 5 Sep 1999 23:27:16 +0200
From: =?iso-8859-2?B?TWljaGGzIE4u?= <sundayk@poczta.onet.pl>
Subject: When RIVA TNT 2 drivers for XWindows ?

When XWindows will work properly with vga's with chipset RIVA TNT 2 ? When I'm trying to use RIVA TNT there are only 16 colors and very,very poor resolution.

 Mon, 6 Sep 1999 01:40:38 +0200
From: Per Nyberg <per.nyberg@alfa.telenordia.se>
Subject: Mandrake

Hi, Im thinking of changing to Linux and I will buy Mandrake Linux. Is Red Hat better or is it a good idea of buying Mandrake?

 Sun, 05 Sep 1999 19:24:28 -0600
From: Dale Snider <dsnider@nmia.com>
Subject: neighbour table overflow

I was running quite a long time with NFS and transmission stopped. I get:

Sep  6 00:03:20 coyote kernel: eth0: trigger_send() called with the
transmitter busy.

I rebooted the machine I was connected to and I get the below (part of /var/log/messages file. Not all error statements shown):

Sep  6 17:57:04 beartooth kernel: neighbour table overflow
Sep  6 17:57:04 beartooth kernel: neighbour table overflow
Sep  6 17:57:04 beartooth rpc.statd: Cannot register service: RPC:
Unable to send; errno = No buffer space available
Sep  6 17:57:04 beartooth nfs: rpc.statd startup succeeded
Sep  6 17:57:04 beartooth rpc.statd[407]: unable to register (SM_PROG,
SM_VERS, udp).l: 
df gives:
Filesystem           1k-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/hda2               792800    628216    123619  84% /
/dev/hda1               819056    369696    449360  45% /NT
/dev/hda4              7925082   4892717   2621503  65% /home

I can't find a reference to this error.

Using RH 6.0 on Intel Pentium III 500 Mhz.


 Mon, 06 Sep 1999 02:17:37 +0000
From: Patrick Dunn <patdunn@dreamscape.com>
Subject: Parallel Port Scanners and Canon BJC-2000

I have two questions...

1)Does anyone have a driver written to work with Parallel port scanners? I have one of these dastardly things that I wish I didn't buy but the price was too good to pass up. It's a UMAX Astra 1220P.

2)I have recently picked up a Canon BJC-2000 inkjet printer and it will print in B&W under Linux using the BJC-600/4000 driver under Ghostscript 5.10 (Mandrake Distro 6.0). Is there a native driver in the works? Color printing under this printer can be problematic.

Thanks, Pat

 Tue, 07 Sep 1999 21:59:49 -0500
From: balou <bigidiot4672@yahoo.com>
Subject: shell programming

Could you point me to a good source for shell programming. I would prefer to find something off the internet taht's free. I've tried multiple web searches, but usually just come up with book reviews and advertisements.... If there are no free resources on the web, which book would you recommend for a relatively novice at Linux with experience in basic, logo, fortran, pascal, and the usual msdos stuff.

 Wed, 08 Sep 1999 21:35:04 +0700
From: Ruangvith Tantibhaedhyangkul <ruangvith@linuxfan.com>
Subject: Configure X to work with Intel 810 chipset

Hi again,

I just bought a new computer. It has an "on-board" video card, Intel 810 chipset, or somewhat like that. I couldn't configure X to work with this type of card. First, I let Linux probed, it failed. Then I looked at the list, of course, it wasn't there. Then I tried an unlisted card and configured it as a general svga, it still failed. What to do now?

 Wed, 8 Sep 1999 16:57:17 +0200
From: <rakeshm@za.ibm.com>
Subject: Internet connection problem !

Hi all

I hope someone can lend some advise ...

I have a PII 350 Mhz box with 64 MB ram running RH 6.0. I am using KDE as a wm and am trying to set up a RELIABLE connection to my ISP. I am using a ZOLTRIX (Rockwell) 56K modem, and kppp to dial in to my ISP.

My problem is that my I can never connect consistently.. in other words today it works fine but tomorrow it will throw me out ... It seems to dial in fine but when it tries to 'authenticate' my ID and password it bombs out ! It connects fine every time if I boot into Windoze 98.

Does anyone have any ideas as to why this might be happening ?

Thanks in advance
Rakesh Mistry

 Fri, 10 Sep 1999 13:28:07 +1000
From: Les Skrzyniarz <leselec@alphalink.com.au>
Subject: Loading HTML back ssuse

Iam using win98 IE5 and when Itry to load the complete issues eg.Issue 42 it stops loading at some random point on the page, and as such I can not save the complete issues(some not all) even when I come back to it agin at a later time the problem persists. The problem is not at my end as I do not have this problem with any other page on the internet.Can you offer a reason for this or a solution.


[Hi. This will be published in the October Gazette, and we'll see if any other readers are having the same problem. I have not heard any other complaints about this so far. I have not used Win98 or IE5, so I can't suggest anything directly.

Which site are you reading the Gazette at? Can you try another mirror?

You can try downloading the Gazette via FTP and reading it locally. See ftp://ftp.ssc.com/pub/lg/README for details.

It may be related to the size of the file and a misconfigured router on the network between us and you. issue45.html is 428K. Are any of the other pages you visit that big? -Ed.]

 Fri, 10 Sep 1999 13:32:21 -0500
From: root <eddie@infored.com.mx>
Subject: (no subject)

Hi! I have a question for you... Is there an utility like fsck but for Macintosh HFS File systems? I want to recover a damaged one due to power supply problems.

 Fri, 10 Sep 1999 13:32:21 -0500
From: root <eddie@infored.com.mx>
Subject: (no subject)

Hi! I have a question for you... Is there an utility like fsck but for Macintosh HFS File systems? I want to recover a damaged one due to power supply problems.

 Mon, 13 Sep 1999 10:22:31 -0700
From: MaxAttack <maxmpd@zip.com.au>
Subject: Re: hello

I was looking into CS software for linux, And one of the tools i was looking into was software to graph the internet its etc map out the registerd users on the arpnet. I was woundering if u happend to have any infomation in any of your magazines on this topic

The Linux Gazette Editor wrote:

No, I don't know of any such software.

What is it you wish to do? Find out who is on each computer? The Internet doesn't really have a concept of "registered user", because the concept of "What is a user?" was never defined Internet-wide.

In any case, you'd have to poll every box to find out what it thinks its current user is. But this identity has no real meaning outside the local network. For Windoze boxes it may be totally meaningless, because users can set it to anything they want. And how would you even find the boxes in the first place? Do a random poll of an IP range? That sounds like Evil marketoid or cracking activity. In any case, if the machines are behind dynamic IPs, as is common with ISPs nowadays, there's no guarantee you'll ever be able to find a certain machine again even if you did find it once.

Manuel replied:

i was thinking of just pinging all the registerd users at some DNS databases over a period of time. And using some software to create a graphical user interface for it, or such.

The Linux Gazette Editor asked:

Are you talking about a network analyzing program like those products that show an icon in red or page the system administrator if a computer goes down?

I assume by "user" you mean a particular machine rather than a user-person, since the DNS doesn't track the latter.

Manuel replied:

hehe sorry for the confusion what i was trying to pass on what the notion of a software that allows u to track out all the registed Boxes on the internet and graph them into a nice graphical picture. so it looks something like this hopefully this diagram helps:

                                  | InterNIC      |
                                  |               |

                                  /              \
                                 /                \
                                /                  \

                         |---------------|      |---------|
                         | linuxstart.com|      |   blah. |
                         |               |      |   com   |
                         |---------------|      |---------|
                         |   */Any Sub   |
                         |     Domain    |

 Sun, 12 Sep 1999 17:19:10 -0400
From: William M. Collins <bcollins@aug.com>
Subject: HP Colorado 5GB

Using Red Hat 5.2

I purchased a HP Colorado 5GB tape drive on reccomendation of a friend. He helped install RH 5.2. And using a program on the system named Arkeia configured the Colorado from this program. This friend has moved from the area.

My questions are:

  1. How do I get to this program ?
  2. How do I backup the configuration in the event of emergency ?


 Tue, 14 Sep 1999 09:56:39 +0800
From: a <leeway@tonghua.com.cn>
Subject: program that play Video Compact Disk (VCD)

i have RH 5.1. Is there any program that play Video Compact Disk (VCD)?

 Thu, 16 Sep 1999 20:34:14 -0400
From: madhater <madhater@rochester.rr.com>
Subject: ahhhhh i heard that

linux will run out of space in 2026 cause of some bs about that i counts in units and the hard drive will be filled this is not true .... right!

[No. Linux, like most Unixes, has a "Year 2032 problem" (I forget the exact year) because the system clock counts the seconds since January 1, 1970, and that number will overflow a 32-bit integer sometime in the 2020s or 2030s.

People generally assume we will all have moved to 64-bit machines by then, which have a 64-bit integer and thus won't overflow until some astronomical time thousands of years from now. If 32-bit machines are still common then, expect some patches to the kernel and libraries to cover the situation. (People will have to check their database storage formats too, of course.)

I have never heard of any time-specific problems regarding i-nodes and disk space. A Unix filesystem has both a limit of the amount of data it can hold and the number of files it can contain. The number of files is the same as the number of i-nodes, which is fixed at format (mkfs) time. Run "df -i" to see what percentage of i-nodes are used. Every file and directory (including every symbolic link) uses one i-node. (Hard links to the same file share the i-node.) For normal use it's never a problem. However, if you have a huge number of tiny files (as on a high-volume mail or news server), it may be worth formatting the partition with a larger-than-usual number of i-nodes. None of this has anything to do with the year, though. -Ed.]

 Fri, 17 Sep 1999 21:54:30 -0700
From: Ramanathan Prabakaran <rampraba@one.net.au>
Subject: run-time error on cplusplus programme

I have edited the sourcecode on windows Notepad, compiled on cygwin32 and run the programme. The source code contains fstream class. It is about file input/output. I have created the input file on the same windows notepad. But the programme does not open or read the contents of the infut file.

Help please

[I haven't quite gotten to the point of banning Windoze questions in the Mailbag because it's hovering at only one or two per issue. But I'm starting to think about it.

However, I do want to support the use of free/open source compilers on Windows, especially since the Cygnus ones are (ahem) "our" compilers. Are there any better forums for Cygnus-on-Windoze to refer people to? -Ed.]

 Sun, 19 Sep 1999 20:12:47 +0200
From: David Le Page <david@e-mg.co.za>
Subject: Making Linux talk to an NT network

I want to get Linux running on my PC at work, and talking to the NT network for file sharing and printer use. Okay, okay, I know the theory -- get samba up and running, read the manual, and make it all happen. But I'm not a networking guru, and I'm battling to understand samba. And everything I read about it seems to be focused on gettings Win machines talking to Samba servers, not the other way around. Can anyone tell me, in 10 Easy Steps, how to get this done?

 Mon, 20 Sep 1999 17:35:23 -0400
From: Mahesh Jagannath <mjaganna@us.oracle.com>
Subject: Netscape and Java

I am running Netscape Comm 4.51 on Red Hat Linux 6.0. It crashes invariably if I load a site with any Java applet etc. Is there something I am missing or is this a known bug?


 Mon, 20 Sep 1999 16:48:35 -0500
From: <qed@tigernet.missouri.org>
Subject: Modem noises

Hi Folks,

I know this is a nitpick, but for reasons I won't go into, it's keeping me from using Linux as much as I might. Is there a way to divert the modem noises to /dev/null ? Hearing them was a help when I was debugging my connection, but now it's just a disturbance.

Jerry Boyd

[Add "L0M0" to your modem's initialization string. One of these sets the volume to zero; the other says never turn on the speaker. (Of course I forget which is which, which is why I set both. Can you believe how many whiches are in that last sentence?) If there is no existing initialization string, use "ATL0M0" + newline. Each modem program will need this put into its configuration file. For PPP, this would be in your chatscript.

I use "L1M1", which means (1) low speaker volume, (2) turn the speaker on only after dialing and off when the connection either succeeds or fails. -Ed.]

 Tue, 21 Sep 1999 08:44:19 GMT
From: raghu ram <tunkey@hotmail.com>
Subject: help

sir, I am using apache web server on Linux machine.

My problem is logrotation,to rotatelogs we should have config file given below

/var/log/messages {
           rotate 5ge.
                                     /sbin/killall -HUP syslogd

config is over,but my problems is where should be setup.

please help me


The Linux Gazette Editor wrote:

I don't understand what the problem is. What does "where should be setup" mean?

Raghu replied:

I don't known how to run the configfile?. I went to man logrotate,just he given configfile.

 Thu, 23 Sep 1999 13:11:53 +0530
From: neeti <neeti@amsoftindia.com>
Subject: linux 6.2 compatible scsi adapters

will somebody pl. tell me the list of SCSI adapters compatible to SUSE lINUX 6.2


 Thu, 23 Sep 1999 17:32:46 +0200
From: De Miguel, Guillermo <guillermo.de.miguel@sap.com>
Subject: Package to install...

Hello everybody,

I have in my notebook installed RedHat 6.0 in a partition of 800Mb with several products installed. As you can suppose, I had to restrict the installation of a lot of packages due to I do not have to much free hard disk space. Sometimes, I am working with my installation, I have problems due to my Linux does not find some file(s). The question is, does somebody know a way to find the package where a file which is not installed is?. I know that there is a option in the rpm command to find the package a file belongs to. However, that file has in the hdd. Has anybody help me ?

Thanks ahead. Guillermo.

 Wed, 01 Sep 1999 16:22:28 +0200
From: Alessandro Magni <magni@omega.ien.it>
Subject: Imagemap

In the need to define hotspots on some images in HTML documents, I found a total lack of programs for Linux that enable you to accomplish this task. Does somebody know what I'm searching for?


General Mail

 Wed, 01 Sep 1999 13:13:02 -0700
From: Jim Dennis <jimd@starshine.org>
Subject: Freedom from UCITA: Free Software

In response to Ed Foster's many recent gripes about the UCITA and the risks associated with some proprietary software licensing.

I'm sure he's heard it before but Freedom from the threat of UCITA is only as far away as your local free software mirror site (FTP and/or web based). Linux, FreeBSD (and its brethren) have licenses without any such traps(*).

* (I've appended a brief note on the two most common software licenses to forestall any argument that they DO contain "such traps.")

If the quality of Linux and other free software didn't speak for itself, the UCITA would be an incentive for its adoption.

It's as though the major commercial software publishers are in their death throes and intent on getting in one last bite, kick or scratch at their customers.

I'm not saying that free software and the open source movement is poised to wipe out proprietary software. For most free software enthusiasts the intent is to provide alternatives.

Ironically it seems as though the major proprietary software interests will obliterate themselves. The UCITA that they propose may pass and become the fulfillment of some modern Greek tragedy.

I just hope that free software enthusiasts can provide the improvements and new, free products that may become unavailable if the commercial software industry annihilates itself.

There's much work to be done.

----------------------- Appendix -----------------------------

Some software is distributed in binary form free of charge. Some proprietary software is distributed with the source code available, but encumbered by a license that limits the production of "derivative works." Those are not commonly referred to as "free software" or "open source" by computing professionals and technical enthusiasts.

However, "free software with open source" permits free use and distribution and includes source code and a license/copyright that specifically permits the creation and distribution of "derivative works" without imposition of licensing fees, royalties, etc.

That, of course is a simplification. There are extensive debates on USENet and other technical fora about the exact nature and definition of the terms "free software" and "open source."

However, that is the gist of it.

There are two major license groups for "free/open source" software: BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) and GPL (GNU Public License).

The BSD license was created by the Regents of the University of California at Berkeley. It was orginally applied to a set of patches and software utilities to UNIX (which was then owned by AT&T). Since then the BSD license has been applied to many software packages by many people and organizations that are wholly unconnected to UC Berkeley. It is the license under which Apache, and FreeBSD are available.

The BSD license permits derivative works, even closed source commercial and proprietary ones. Its principle requirements are the inclusion of a copyright notice and a set of disclaimers (disclaiming warranty and endorsement by the original authors of the software). Many advocates consider it to be the "free-est" license short of complete and utter abandonment (true public domain).

The GPL is somewhat more complicated. It was created by the Free Software Foundation (FSF), which was founded by Richard M. Stallman (a software visionary with a religous fervor and a following to match).

The terms of the GPL which cause misunderstandings and debate revolve around a requirement that "derivative works" be available under the same licensing terms as their "source" (progenitors?).

This is referred to as the "viral nature" of the GPL.

Conceptually if I "merge" the sources to two programs, one which was under the GPL and another which was "mine" then I'm required to release the sources to my software when I release/distribute the derivative.

That's the part that causes controversy. It's often played up as some sort of "trap" into which unwary software developers will be pulled.

One misconception is that I have to release my work when I use GPL software. That's absurd, pure FUD! I can use GNU EMACS (a GPL editor) and gcc (a popular GPL compiler) to write any software I like. I can release that software under any license I like. The use of the tools to create a package doesn't make it a "derivative work." Another more subtle misconception is that I'd be forced to release the sources to any little patch that I made to a package. If I make a patch, or a complex derived work, but only use it within my own organization, then I'm not required to release it. The license only requires the release of sources if I choose to "DISTRIBUTE" my derivative.

One last misconception. I don't have to distribute my GPL software free of charge. I can charge whatever I like for it. The GPL merely means that I can't prevent others from distributing it for free, that I must release the sources and that I must allow further derivation.

The FSF has developed an extensive suite of tools. Their GNU project intends to create a completely "free" operating system. They provided the core "tool chain" that allowed Linus Torvalds and his collaborators to develop Linux. That suite is released under the GPL. Many other software packages by many other authors are also released under the GPL.

Indeed, although the Linux kernel is not a "derived work" and its developers are unaffiliated with the FSF (as a group) it is licensed under the GPL.

There are a number of derivative and variations of these licenses. Some of them may contain subtle problems and conflicts. However, the intent of the authors is generally clear. Even with the worst problems in "free" and "open source" software licenses, there is far less risk to consumers who use that software than there is from any software released under proprietary licenses that might be enforced via the UCITA.

[Jim, you get the award for the first Mailbag letter with an Appendix.

There is an article about UCITA on the Linux Journal web site, which contains an overview of UCITA's potential consequences, as well as a parody of what would happen if UCITA were applied to the auto industry. -Ed.]

 Fri, 3 Sep 1999 10:32:58 +0200
From: niklaus <peter.niklaus@t-online.de>
Subject: gazette #45 - article on java

Hey, what's about that buggy article on JDE on linux - i receive nothing more than an floating point error ?!?


 Fri, 3 Sep 1999 19:16:19 +0200
From: <jh.terstegge@gmx.de>
Subject: Re: Ooops, your page(s) formats less-optimum when viewed in Opera

Hi Guys at Linux Gazette.

This mail responds to Bjorn Eriksson's mail in issue #45 / General Mail: SV: Ooops, your page(s) formats less-optimum when viewed in Opera (http://www.operasoftware.com/).

I have the same problem in my Opera. I tested it with Opera 3.1, 3.5 and 3.6 on Windows and the alpha release for BeOS, but every time the same problem. This is my solution for the problem: When defining this: indent you use the tag option WIDTH="2" If you change it to WIDTH="1%" it looks better.

Jan-Hendrik Terstegge

[I tried his advice, and another Opera user said it worked. -Ed.]

 Thu, 02 Sep 1999 13:44:53 -0700
From: <dstevens@bulkley.net>
Subject: misspelling

This month's linux gazette contains what is for my money the most hideous misspelling ever to appear in your pages. The article "Stripping and Mirroring RAID under RedHat 6.0" clearly does NOT refer to an attempt to remove any apparel whatsoever from our favorite distro. STRIP is to undress, STRIPE is to make a thin line, RAID does not concern itself with haberdashery or nudity.

Dave Stevens

The Linux Gazette Editor writes:

OK, fixed.

P.S. STRIP is also used in electronics, when you scrape the insulation off wires.

Mark Nielsen adds:


I used ispell to check the spelling, dang, it doesn't help when the word you mispell is in the dictionary.


 Thu, 16 Sep 1999 13:46:22 +0200 (CEST)
From: =?iso-8859-1?q?seigi=20seigi?= <seigi1999@yahoo.fr>
Subject: Linux Gazette in French


Je voudrai savoir si votre magazine existe en francais sinon ou si vous connaissiez un magazine en francais qui parle de Linux

Merci d avance

[There are two French versions listed on the mirrors page, one in Canada and one in France. There used to be a third version, but it no longer exists. A company wrote me and said they are working on a commercial translation as well, although I have not heard that it's available yet.

 Mon, 20 Sep 1999 08:59:40 -0400
From: Gaibor, Pepe (Pepe) <gaibor@lucent.com>
Subject: What is the latest?

With great interest I got into and perused Linux Gazette. Any new stuff beyond April 1997? and if so where is it.

[You're reading it. :)

If the site you usually read at appears to be out of date, check the main site at www.linuxgazette.net. Ed.]

 Wed, 22 Sep 1999 9:21:17 EDT
From: Dunx <dunx@dunx.org>
Subject: Encyclopaedia Galactica != Foundation

Re: September 99 Linux Gazzette, Linux Homour piece -

Liked the operating systems airlines joke, but surely the footnote about the Encyclopaedia Galactica is in error? The only EC I know is the competitor work to the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy in Douglas Adams' novels, radio and TV shows, and coputer games.


 Thu, 23 Sep 1999 17:26:30 +0800
From: Phil Steege <psteege@tpg.com.au>
Subject: Linux Gazette Archives CDROM

I just wondered if there was, or if not has there ever been, any thought to publishing a Linux Gazette Archives CDROM.

Thank you for a great publication.

Phil Steege

[See the FAQ, question 2. -Ed.]

This page written and maintained by the Editor of the Linux Gazette, gazette@linuxgazette.net
Copyright © 1999, Specialized Systems Consultants, Inc.
Published in Issue 46 of Linux Gazette, October 1999

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