2000 11 09

                    LINUX NEWS
            Thursday, November 9, 2000


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

    IBM Rolls out Small Business Suite for Linux
    IBM in a 15,200 Linux Server Deal
    Dell loves Linux
    2.4 nears release

3) Linux Resources

    Software RAID
    The bad RAM patch
    Traffic Graphs
    How to use a floppy
    Controlling access via TCP Wrappers

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1) Sean's Notes
As someone who used Microsoft Windows before my transition
to Linux, I've run into a few problems trying to make the
change. Although applications you currently run are probably
not available under Linux, there may be an equivalent.

The web browser is the easiest transition of all. As a
Netscape user before the move, I found that the Linux
version was just as good. Some plug ins (including Flash)
have even been ported so that your web browsing experience
is the same.

I used to be a big fan of Word Perfect, so I thought that
using the Linux version would be right for me. This didn't
turn out to be true, mostly because I wanted the ability
to embed spreadsheets into a text document. I also found
the interface to be a bit clunky compared to what I was
used to at the time. Eventually I found out about
StarOffice, and immediately took a liking to it. With
StarOffice, I can do all of the word processing and
spreadsheets I need, and in the rare event that I need to
do a presentation it's got that built in too.  It'll read
and write MS Office files, which I've used on several
occasions to read attachments that were sent to me. I
wouldn't recommend the mail reader (I'm still a fan of
PINE), since Netscape's is much quicker.

I've got a Palm Pilot and I use it to keep my life in
order. StarOffice has Palm Pilot integration, but that
would mean I'd have to fire it up whenever I wanted to
look up a phone number. It also doesn't handle all the
functionality of the Windows Palm Desktop. Since I'm a
GNOME user, I installed the gnome-pilot and pilot-link
packages, which allow me to easily HotSync to the GNOME
address book and calendar, along with keeping track of
my memos and the like. When I upgraded to Helix-GNOME, it
was all built-in, so now I can easily keep up on updates
via the Helix System Updater.

My favorite news reader was Forte Free Agent. Not wanting
to give that up, I found out about the WINE project (http://www.winehq.com).
WINE is an implementation of the
Win32 API. Many applications run on it, including Free
Agent and Gnutella.  There is some good documentation out
there on how to get WINE going. I was even able to play a
game of Red Alert on my Linux box using WINE.

Unfortunately, WINE doesn't do everything. One such example
is Quicken 2000. There are reports of Quicken 98 working
under WINE, as long as the Internet features aren't used.
Since I use this to update my balances and investments, I
couldn't make do without the Internet aspect. One
alternative is GNUCash, which is a very good personal
finance application. If GNUCash could handle online
updating of account balances, I think I'd ditch Quicken
in a flash.

At the moment, I've installed VMWare (www.vmware.com),
running Windows 98. It is fairly slow on my K6-233, but
it gets the job done. I've also used VMWare to do some
testing of Linux in a separate environment.

So, for those of you looking to make the jump to Linux, I
hope that you learn from some of my experiences. It is a
viable desktop OS, and it has been much more reliable
than my old Windows configuration.

Let's hear your thoughts on this:


Long live the Penguin!


2) Linux News

IBM Rolls out Small Business Suite for Linux
IBM has bundled Lotus Domino, the WebSphere Application
Server, and DB2 Universal Database into a suite, and priced
it at the $500 mark rather than the $3,600 the components
would cost if bought separately. The catch is that they'll
only license you up to 100 users, but that's OK for the
multitude of small businesses out there that want some great
software at a low per-seat cost.


IBM in a 15,200 Linux Server Deal
Busy this week, aren't they? A Japanese convenience store
chain is replacing Windows machines with Linux machines in
7,600 stores. The servers will be connected to touch screen
terminals that provide information and Internet services to
customers. No news on what distribution will be used though.


Dell loves Linux!
Dell has joined the growing number of computer distributors
that have embraced Linux. In a series of press releases,
Dell announced that they'll be shipping RedHat 7
pre-installed on some of their servers and workstations.
They also announced some impressive web serving performance
on an 8-way box. It's running custom developed code, but it
should hit mainstream soon enough.


2.4 nears release
The next major release of the kernel, 2.4, is getting closer
to completion. 2.4-test10 was just released, with a note
from Linus saying that there are no show-stoppers in this
one. 2.4 promises better support for SMP (multiple
processors), an area where Linux has traditionally been weak.

Once again, they've redone the networking code to be more
robust, so if you just got the hang of ipchains, get ready
to learn iptables!


3) Linux Resources

Software RAID
RAID is a technology that lets you increase the reliability
of your disk system by storing data in a redundant fashion,
to expand the capacity by combining several disks into one
larger volume, or a combination of both. You can buy an
expensive RAID card, or you can get your operating system
to do it for you. This document explains how RAID works,
and how to implement software RAID on your Linux box.


The bad RAM patch
One of the things that can go wrong with a RAM chip is that
a certain memory address will get "stuck", i.e. always show
the same number. Usually it means the whole chip is junk.
This is a patch that allows you to specify where the RAM is
bad, and the kernel will work around the address. Even with
the relatively low cost of RAM, this can have some
interesting applications. Regardless, it's another example
of the benefits of open source (and that some people never


Traffic Graphs
Anyone who manages more than a few switches and routers
knows how helpful SNMP can be. MRTG, the Multi Router
Traffic Grapher, is a collection of PERL scripts and C code
that will graph traffic utilization, or any other SNMP
variable. It also has the capability to graph other things,
such as load average, hits/second on a web server, or proxy
usage. What would you expect to pay for this amazing
software? Nothing, of course!


How to use a floppy
One of the more common questions I've seen from people is
"How do I access a floppy disk?" It's not quite as easy as
putting it in and typing "A:"! That's because a filesystem
has to be mounted before it can be used. This article,
courtesy of linuxnewbie.com, is an excellent introduction
to disks and filesystems.


Controlling access via TCP Wrappers
TCP Wrappers are one of the simpler ways of controlling
access to your computer. Through two text files, you can
control who can connect to most of your services. Pretty
much everyone ships with them pre-installed, but you have
to know how to use them effectively. This article will set
you on the right foot so you can keep the bad guys out.


(C) 2000 BrainBuzz.com. All Rights Reserved.


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