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HELP WANTED : Article Ideas
Submit comments about articles, or articles themselves (after reading our guidelines) to The Editors of Linux Gazette, and technical answers and tips about Linux to The Answer Gang.

Article Idea

Thu, 12 Jun 2003 13:22:12 -0700
Dalton Arts (dalton from

Dear Answer Gang,

After 20 years with Microsoft, I see the revolution brewing on the horizon (at least I think I do). Assuming the role of Nortradamous, the movement promoted, sponsored, and pushed by Microsoft to institute subscription based software has prompted a revolution in the future. Being one of those people who has been making a living off of the computer industry for many years, becoming bilingual feels like I landed on Alpha Centauri <grin> Of course, I expected that jumping into the underlying mechanics of Linux would bring on lots of anxiety and frustrations. As the result, the thought that if I'm experiencing some difficult times, my customers would go out of their minds.

In the past when major transitions came about (i.e.., DOS & Windows 3.1 to Win 95), major publications produced issues with brief task oriented tips. I personally found these to be excellent and it got me up to speed quickly. I'm aware of the "How To's" but I would hardly classify them as "Tips." I believe the time is right to begin a section devoted to "Windows Defectors." The section should specifically address the typical daily activities of the Windows user and how to configure Linux to operate like Windows. If you would like, I have references to many of the Windows Tips that have been published since Win 95 hit the street as well as copies of the articles and issues in which they were published.

I believe that within the next two to three years, you will be inundated with so many defectors that they will become a power influence on your perspective. I am also aware that the traditional view of the Linux community would prefer to maintain as much distance as possible between themselves and Windoze, but take heart, there's a silver lining to that cloud. If I squint real hard, that lining may be platinum ... hard to tell from here.

It's pretty obvious that some in the Linux community already recognize the signs of this brewing revolution and have made great strides in Gnome and especially, KDE. I first began surveying the potential of Linux back in version 5.2 Redhat, then 7.2, and now 9.x. The Linux community certainly has been busy and come a long way (Redmond must be having fits). I look forward to the day when Adobe PhotoShop is available for Linux. I suspect that would be like winning a Grammy or Oscar.

The kinds of things to cover would be how to get the dynamic mounting of all drives to function like they do in Windows. Automatic unmounting when media is removed and remounted when media is inserted.

Later, Dalton Seymour

The staff here at LG had a mixed reaction...
I left the message intact above for reading convenience, though our conversation about it is below is in TAG style.
But what we want to know from you, dear readers, is whether you would like to see a column specifically for issues dealing with Windows analogies, or if you'd prefer to see them scattered into Two Cent Tips or The Answer Gang or as inidividual articles where most applicable. Should this fellow spin up his own great little site and have y'all who live in both worlds join the party? Tell us :D -- Heather

...and frustrations. As the result, the thought that if I'm experiencing some difficult times, my customers would go out of their minds.

[Thomas Adam] Hmmm, that is only because they have become too dependant on using one product, Microsoft.
I've seen people who only play in one desktop environment get lost in others without it being that particular beastie; the problem is singlemindedness, not who it comes from. -- Heather

...devoted to "Windows Defectors" ... If you like, I have references to many of the Windows Tips that have been published...

[Thomas Adam] Trying to do what you are suggesting, boiling down information into "tips", is not an easy thing to do.
%%%%% And thanks ever so much to you among the readers who send us boiled down Two Cent Tips! %%%%%%
No, but it could be a fun and worthwhile thing to try. Some of the tips found in MSwin's "tips" in the registry aren't all that short. -- Heather
[Thomas Adam] Windows has the advantage in that tips work, soley because there is only one "layer" to Windows -- only one GUI. Because Linux has many different "layers" in that sense, often trying to diagnose a problem and thus producing a tip, often requires intimate knowledge of the user's system and the underlying Hardware, etc.
I have to disagree. For one thing - I worked for Norton years ago, and even win3.1 had other managers available - HP had one, we had NDW, Compaqs shipped with this weird tabbed thing, and so on. There were a couple of shareware apps to hack what we X using folk would call the basic widget set, scrollbars, borders and so on.
For the modern era Windows you might look into LiteStep, or into KDE for Windows. (I'm not sure K for MSwin replaces the manager, but since the tech exists to do that I hope they do.) And some mini explorer I saw mentioned on a shareware site, whose name I forgot.
While it's true that a problem often has layers, a set of first things to try can still be good too. And, as I spent so many years in MSwin based tech support teaching others, Windows has those layers to dig through, too. The analogous tip may not end up resembling the first one much - but the analogous problem it's solving may be more similar than you think. -- Heather
We do have a "unifying" interface: the command line. The CLI, on the other hand, provides no hints to the uninitiated and is The Source Of All Goodness, where the real work of tweaking the system gets done... -- Ben

...the Linux community would prefer to maintain as much distance as possible between themselves and Windoze, but take heart, there's a silver lining to that cloud. If I squint real hard, that lining may be platinum.

You're restricting yourself to metals there. It'll be cotton candy and gemstones, and other things, because different people will take the fluffy silver lined cloud as a starting point and head in different directions from there. The goth kids who like darkness will figure out some way to improve the storminess without raining on everyone else's parade. And so on. -- Heather

Well, we've had this kind of discussion (or at least fairly similar to it) here before, and it's not an uncommon topic. It usually comes from the folks who are new to the Linux community, and unaware of how it (the community/system/flow of information/etc.) works. Believe me, none of us have anything against educating ex-Wind0ws users about Linux... but we can't do it by using the Micr0s0ft model. Nor - with very few exceptions that a) make good sense, b) can transfer to _our_ model, and c) are Free (and usually free as well) - would we want to. }}}}

People who don't want to tweak their thoughts to the do-it-yourselfer model will wait until they like the Linux boxen they see on the shelf in WalMart.
The models aren't directly allergic to each other, they just kind of interlace and don't understand each other. -- Heather
[Thomas Adam] Indeed, Ben. Many people who I talk to about making "the switch" are often put off by the black-and-white terminal screen. They cannot seem to realise that despite this, there are increasing GUI's out there that offer the functionality that Windows user's crave: control from the GUI.
There are. But the fact that they at present work on underlying text files, means when the GUIs break down - either don't work, or prevent someone from getting at the unusual control combination the GUI-tool's author didn't think of - then they can be dealt with "under the hood". Short of hand hacking registry entries there's no close equivalent in Windows. -- Heather
Mind you, there is at least one good idea in what you say - in fact, I was already thinking about doing something like this on my own, although the details are different. I think that a "Basic Linux tips" site would be a useful thing... but I would also say that it should definitely be a separate entity from the Linux Gazette. The main reason is that it would be a toe-in-the-water type of resource - for people who had never used Linux before - while the LG readership, at least the folks who contact us on a regular basis (and, as always, in my estimate) are beyond that point. In fact, where I see LG positioned is - to draw a parallel - at the point to which I try to get my students in the various intro programming classes I teach: enough knowledge to know what questions to ask. That is a key turning point in the knowledge curve, the "knee" at which that curve breaks over and starts accelerating. With Linux, that point is not too far away from the origin; however, it is not at the origin, which is the point you're talking about.
Personally, I believe that Knoppix <>; is just about the best intro to Linux that a new "defector" can have. With even a little bit of prior computer experience, the average Joe (or Joette :) can be surfing, sending e-mail, and using a word processor just a couple of minutes after firing it up. I believe that it's much better to get someone _doing_ and then nailing down the specifics than trying to teach the technical detail without any referent (my brain works OK in both of those scenarios, but in my experience as a teacher I find that most folks do far better with the former approach.) -- Ben

...much better to get someone doing and then nailing down the specifics...

Yep -- I'll second that!
"Joelle" let's say :)
Heh. I just ran yet another internet lounge, mostly running Knoppix, and I can tell that most of the "I'm lost" kind of questions were not as much about "this isn't windows!" as "uh, where's a web browser?" or where was the chat thingy. -- Heather

I look forward to the day when Adobe PhotoShop is available for Linux. I suspect that would be like winning a Grammy or Oscar.

<Smile> I suggest you take a good look at The GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) and the "Grokking the Gimp" book available free on the net and as a Linux package ("grokking-the-gimp" under Debian.) Photoshop can't even compete, although they've made some nice improvements in the recent years. As an aside, I've been using The GIMP for several years, recently got into the above manual, and have been shocked, re-shocked, and triple-shocked by how much flexibility, how huge a variety of tools, and how much RAW POWER lies hidden behind that "simple" little interface (and that I've just passed by, unknowingly, all these years.) I wouldn't go back to using Photoshop for anything less than large amounts of money, and would still use the GIMP for my own graphical editing. -- Ben
IIRC, Michael Hammel, who used to write "The Graphics Muse" is extensively helping the promotion of GIMP. He writes some columns in a local Linux magazine here in England that I saw recently.
Yeah, well, if you bump into him tell him I'm pretty fond of it nowadays.
Photoshop has all these cool extra filter thingies you can buy in the store. I'm not sure that Kai Power Tools is the only package. Its strengths are rather different from the GIMP but I wouldn't say "can't compete". GIMP began aiming in Photoshop's direction, but the people who really use it took it to other places. So if Kai starts selling Kai's Power GIMP Fu, then we'll be winning the Oscar.
See also a Two Cent Tip about CMYK for the GIMP in this issue, thx Ben :D -- Heather

external booting

Sun, 20 Jul 2003 17:50:21 EDT
Susielm39 (Susielm39 from

hi i am in terested in bying an external harddisk and was wondering if i could install linux on that and windows xp on my internal one then dule boot as windose xp as default Thanks!

We get dual boot questions all the time, of different sorts. Would someone out there, who is a real experimenter in dual or multiple booting, write us a nice juicy article using a bunch of the tips and techniques that are obviously out there? I mean, sure, we can keep pointing folks to the howto's and the TAG Knowledgebase until we turn into signposts. But having a real, got my grubby hands on it example to walk through, perhaps including why you're such an experimenter, would... make linux a little more fun ! -- Heather

sendmail ignores MX record

Tue, 15 Jul 2003 18:56:09 +0200
julius.blank (julius.blank from


i have sendmail v 8.8.7 running on a RedHat 7.2 box. A few days ago I downgraded sendmail as I have several other boxes running on that version (by the way, they work perfectly).

Now, when I try to send mails to anywhere else but local accounts, the only way I can do this is via "sendmail -v User@Domain". If I use mail or any other mail- program or even "sendmail user@domain", sendmail does not deliver the mail but prints the following message into /var/log/maillog:

"Jul 15 16:53:00 redhat-box sendmail[19121]: QAA19121: from=root, size=37,
class=0, pri=30037, nrcpts=1, msgid=<20030715145 3.QAA19121@redhat-
box.mydomain>, relay=root@localhost
Jul 15 16:53:00 redhat-box sendmail[19123]: QAA19121: to=User@Domain,
ctladdr=root (0/0), delay=00:00:00, xdelay=00:00:00, mailer=esmtp,
relay=Domain., stat=Deferred: Name server: Domain.: host name lookup failure".

Instead of using the correct relay it uses the domain I want to send my mail to as a relay.

The weird thing is that as well "sendmail -v" as "sendmail -bt" with /mx entered resolve the MX record correctly.

Another weird thing is that a DNS-query is also done by my redhat-box when I try to use "sendmail User@Domain". It seems that in this case sendmail retrieves the same info from the DNS but stops processing it correctly somewhere between my attempt and the actual delivery.

After several days of debugging and searching forums I don't have any clue what sendmail wants to tell me here. I would be really grateful (and impressed) if anyone can help me with this.

Thanks in advance.

And.... you're the next contestant on "Stump The Answer Gang" :) Just kidding. Hey folks, if any of you out there know what he should look into next, let us know (and don't forget to cc him too). Or if you can write up a good fun article about Troubleshooting Sendmail For The Dazed And Bemused - that'd be great. We know, there's a lot of books about sendmail, but that's why we're looking for something a little smaller. Remember it should be fun and take a look at our article submission guidelines. -- Heather

Perl/Tk GUI Builder

Sat, 12 Jul 2003 12:19:25 -0400
Faber Fedor (faber from

Hey Gang,

Does anyone know of a Perl/Tk GUI builder? The only things I've found on Google are specperl and Guido, neither of which are supported any longer. Specperl is okay, but I've got to make so many changes to the generated code that it would be a lot of work if I needed to make changes to the GUI (and I do!).

Even a commercial app would be fine (from what I've seen, most of ActiveState's stuff doesn't run under Linux).

Do Perl/Tk people really build the interfaces by hand still? That can get pretty tedious...

Ok readers, now's your chance. Show us where the cool toys are, or put together an article about your TK hacking plans in perl that shows how you're having some fun with it. Either that, or maybe someone out there can rescue these benighted apps :) -- Heather

How to run chat with several phone numbers .

Wed, 2 Jul 2003 09:35:51 -0700
Coelho, Joao (Joao.Coelho from

I need to create a chat file that would run with several phone numbers, if phonenum1 is busy then go to phonenum2, and so on. I also would like to add the phone numbers dynamically because sometimes we need to dial out with long distance and need to add either the outside line number 9. Since these requirements vary, is there a way to use variables that can be passed to the chat script ? Thanks.

Joao Coelho

We're looking for a noble reader who really knows how to make computers chat. For those who haven't caught on, a chat script is used to tell the pppd setup how to complete the connection. Usually this is from a small system to their ISP, but just plain peering can be done too.
I think if it were me I'd use wvdial as a front end...
PPP experts, drop us a note if you can help out here. -- Heather

BiDi Problems in WINE + SMARTDRAW

Thu, 12 Jun 2003 17:49:30 -0300
Daniel Carneiro do Nascimento (dcn from

#sorry about my english... i'ved learned that by myself.. so ..
# U can make some modifications < of course.. it's gpl..> in my english

So I did, just a little, though usually we leave questions alone so people have a sense of how the querent meant things :) -- Heather

Hiya guys..

I have a problem ( d' aah)

I've tried to use SmartDraw under wine.. and then.. after I configure everything.. It works! At least, I think that, when I see SmarrtDraw starting.. showing the initial WELCOME.. etc.. but.. when he tries to show me the initial screen < to chose the objects of my diagram> BUMMER! My wine DIES.

my log is so big.. and every thing happens about BiDi...

#] warn:font:GetCharacterPlacementW The BiDi algorythm doesn't conform
to Windows'

And then.. BiDi throws a lot of junk < i suppose> in my memory causing some HEAPS Faults:.

#] warn:heap:HEAP_IsRealArena Heap 0x40db0000: block 0x408acf is not
inside heap

there's not an upgrade for BiDi available.. and.. since November 22.. BiDi has been going crazy... with some programs that request some kind of.. font.. i don't know...

The HEAP Faults problem.. I solved myself making a bigger "X:/temp" and includding a new path for junk.. but.. WINE couldn't pass through BiDi, when it get a crash.. cause the BiDi NEVER stops to send some.. THING. < i don't know what either.> to the memory.. that fills up.. whatever is your /temp size! < mine is 2 G!>

I just don't know what to do! I'm really really lost.. and.. I need to make wine work... it's not for the program itself.. it's for the HONOR! AHUuhauahh

DO you guys know ANYTHING about that Suddenly Crashing?!? Or.. incompatibility ? Or whatever you call it... ...

Tnkx so much for reading my crappy email...


Daniel Carneiro do Nascimento

Squid and FTP

Fri, 27 Jun 2003 11:26:16 +0300
Nickos Yoldassis (niyo from

Hi there,

I use squid as a proxy server (default configuration) and it seems that i can't connect to ftp sites through it. Do I have to do anything?

Nickos, Greece

It appears that this is an FAQ in the land of Squid, number 12.17 -- "Can I make my regular FTP clients use a Squid cache?"

Nope, its not possible. Squid only accepts HTTP requests. It speaks FTP on the server-side, but not on the client-side.

The very cool wget will download FTP URLs via Squid (and probably any other proxy cache).

However, it would be fun to have an article about somebody using Squid and/or other site caching software in powerful ways to make their site's view of the web more fun. There are a bunch of add-ons at Freshmeat for it, so I'm sure someone out there has a great example for us to follow. Don't forget to read our author submission guidelines. -- Heather

create new lilo boot loader - on 2nd drive

Fri, 13 Jun 2003 02:42:27 +0000
Geraldine Koh (geradin07 from

Hi people, I have a problem......

I'm actually trying to mirror the hard disks using RAID 1 in Red Hat 9.It can work perfectly but the bug is that i can only boot up the first hard disk, i suppose lilo is stored as th MBR in it. The second hard disk during booting up, shows LI and i boot it using a bootup diskette instead. I'm wondering how to implement lilo in the second HDD in such a way that it auto boots up just like the 1st HDD.Is it possible?

Is it true that only 1 MBR could be used will it work on 2 MBR in 2 respective hard disks?

I visited the Boot+Raid+Root+ Lilo How to documentation: & i tried this method to boot up second HDD..but there's error

it is known as a raid LILO config file pair that I implemented:

See attached geraldine.lilo.conf.hda.txt

I created this 2 lilo configuration file but not too sure whether is eing read anot because i still have a current default lilo file /etc/lilo.conf

See attached geraldine.default.etc-lilo.conf.txt

Bacially that's about all...I hope your gang can resolve my roblem.Sorry if i bored you to sleep with such a long email. Hope to hear from ya soon...

Cheers, Geraldine

Undelivered chroot mail - echo 'x' ?

Fri, 4 Jul 2003 13:51:15 -0700
Jonathan Hirshon (jh from
Note, the hosted site's name and troubled user account have been anonymized. -- Heather

Ick - it seems her email is still not working! :( Everyone else's seems to be working fine, but since she heads up the office we shoulfd try and figure out what the heck is wrong with hers before she goes ballistic!

Got any ideas?

cheers, JH

Here's the error:

Reporting-MTA: dns;
Arrival-Date: Wed,  2 Jul 2003 21:28:58 -0700 (PDT)

Final-Recipient: rfc822;
Action: failed
Status: 5.0.0
Diagnostic-Code: X-Postfix; Command died with status 1: "/bin/echo 'x' >
   /var/chroot/home/mary". Command output: sh:
   /var/chroot/home/mary: No such file or directory

Well, a real stumper is, I've sent her mail and she has actually been getting it, as shown by her copies of my messages in the thread. So whatever this is is only happening under limited circumstances.

Even weirder, the host space for "" should NOT be mentioning /var/chroot - that's a referent for the next level up. So I will check /etc/passwd and see if her homedir is wrong. But I still cannot figure out why it would mention /bin/echo. I don't use it to say 'x' - I use to to say real messages I want logged, even during debug modes. So Perhaps something automatic did it, but then, I don't know what.

It also happened when soneone from Intel sent her an email - he forwarded me the same bounce.

Let me know if we can get this fixed ASAP - thanks, JH

We did fix this, but, the method we used was to simply create a new account for her. So, if anyone has any good theory as to what really happened... -- Heather

Well, she doesn't have any procmail that everyone else doesn't have (it just keeps a backup mailbox). There's not mention of /bin/echo anywhere in the postfix setup of either the top or chroot'd levels. And her homedir references are correct, plus, other people have the same setup she does in that regard too. There isn't even a letter x anywhere in their aliases file, since none of the accounts or alias names contains one. /var/chroot/home/mary does indeed exist, if you look at things from the top level, but the postfix running in the lower level has no good reason to try to refer to that, since the chroot'd /etc/passwd mentions /home/mary.

I tried hitting up the net for that form of error message, but nothing useful came up. I'm going to submit this to The Answer Gang and see if any of them has a good idea what to look at next.

As it turns out, the original subject looked like a mailer daemon notice and everyone ignored it. Sorry about that. But the stumper remains. An additional bit not mentioned here, is that the user is not a shell user, she only uses POP and SMTP from this server. Thanks in advance, folks! -- Heather


Nobody sent in any comments about our articles last month.


trimmed addresses from Gang tips

Wed, 2 Jul 2003 07:07:05 -0700
The Answer Gang's Editor Gal (tag from

That reminds me ... :-)

Can my email displayed in the Author page be changed to Since the time it was put on that page, that email is almost lost in huge amount of spam (it is not listed anywhere else).

Also, my experience with has been good, I use the email all over my homepage and other webpages and their cleaning is very good, hardly one or two spam mails in a month get through.

While it's Ben's task to try and keep the bios up-to-date in this fashion...

Gang members may be pleased to know that those of you whom I recognize as regular contributors get your real addresses snipped and replaced with a rather generic "The Answer Gang" - and our regular staffers, such as Thomas, get their monikers. I've been doing it for a while, so several of you are in my little scripts as automatically fixed up that way.

-- Heather, your Editor Gal

trimmed addresses from Gang tips

Wed, 24 July 2003 19:22:13 -0700
The Answer Gang's Editor Gal (tag from

It's been brought to my attention that some people feel that the Gazette is a bit of a closed system and hard for people to submit material to.

This magazine is a labor of love - we are all volunteers here, every single one of us. The title bar on TAG used to say it was by a handful of members of the Gang.... and you!

It's still true, but it's not limited to that column.

We have a batch of people at the core of it, but anyone has the power here to make a difference. If you have suggestions for improving the look of Linux Gazette - things you liked or hated about older styles - do let us know. We may not accept every suggestion, because we still want to be usable across low end connections like modems in the wilder areas of the world, we have PDA users surfing websites now, and we still want to be search engine friendly. But with those things in mind, we're sure we can do more.

I know it may not look like it in some months, but you don't have to be a member of The Answer Gang to tell us your best juicy tips. Just send them to with "Tips" or "2c" anywhere in the subject, and if your tip seems accurate you'll see your name with two pennies next month. If your Tip is a bit long, but your explanation is good, send it anyway. We like those a lot. If it's really long, you may end up as one of the speakers in the TAG column yourself, or invited to lengthen your material into an article.

We post Wanteds (see above) for two flavors of enouragement; you can show off your knowledge on a few Answer Gang style questions without formally joining the Gang ... and people with a broader view can write some articles on these "stumper" topics.

Article ideas need not come from the lost and confused, though. If you can't write, but you know some cool topic you'd love to see covered, send in your article idea either to me for the Mailbag directly, or to the Gang if you'd like to see it discussed and maybe turned into a good thread. I'd also like to take a moment to thank all the authors who presently have ideas in the pipeline for us.

We do sometimes see articles put together from general discussions among our answerfolk, though this is less common. Anyone who has a little room in their mailbox and a desire to help out - or just listen to the clues float by - is welcome to join The Answer Gang. Visit to reach our mailman interface. This is a few hundred slices of mail every month though, and sometimes rambles. Don't be afraid to correct people who are wrong, but try to be friendly. And don't let the dark glasses and other silliness put you off; it's part of the charm. And yes, pop in with enough answers and help a few of the regulars not shoot themselves too badly around the feet - and you, too, will enjoy the TAG lounge and the marvelous automagically refreshable munchies.

We haven't had any formal sponsors for a long while, but you don't have to be a lone individual to help out. If any companies out there would like to help sponsor the Gazette by defraying some of the costs that our host puts into this, please contact Your reward will be your logo on the index page, and a round of thanks from LG readers everywhere.

While we're talking about a big helping hand ... let's all think a round of virtual beer for our unsung heroes who run the mirror sites. Especially those brave souls in the boonies who only have storage room for a few issues, or a moderate degree of permanent badnwidth, but keep a mirror anyway. If you are a mirror site maintainer, and are having some trouble keeping your mirror up to date, please email us about it. The Gang will be glad to help you settle out any automation bugs that we can. Our new webmaster (wave Hi, Jeff!) will see that you're able to connect up. New mirrors are always welcome too.

Lastly, we're working on having some more memorable addresses soon. I realize that it will take a while for folks to clean up bookmarks, and we'll see a lot of folks referencing older documents, and besides is shorter to type. Fear not, those addresses will still work for awhile to come. But alias space is cheap, and easy to remember addresses will, we hope, make submitting to the Linux Gazette ... a little more fun.


Copyright © 2003, . Copying license
Published in Issue 93 of Linux Gazette, August 2003

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