2000 11 30

                    LINUX NEWS
            Thursday, November 30, 2000


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

New Distributed.net Client Raises Controversy
Bring back Gopher!
Watch Out For Those Naked PCs
RH7 Advisories

3) Linux Resources

Patching 101
Perl, or PHP?
Drawing Lines in GIMP
Moving the Root Partition
Need Debian Help?

4) App o’ the week

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1) Sean's Notes
PERL, the Practical Extraction and Reporting Language, is a
vital tool in the system administrator's toolbox.  It is a
powerful scripting language, and the availability of modules
on CPAN (Comprehensive Perl Archive Network) means that a
lot of code is already written for you.

It used to be that adding modules to Perl was fairly complex.
Module A may depend on Module B, which further depends on
Module C.  Luckily, the modules are usually smart enough to
tell you that something is missing, but it's up to you to go
out and find it.

Enter CPAN.pm.  This module will go out and find modules for
you.  It will take care of downloading, compiling, testing,
and installing. If another module is needed, it'll grab it
off of CPAN and install it. It can keep track of versions,
even going so far as upgrading Perl itself if need be.

CPAN.pm comes with Perl by default, so you should be able to
start it up (as root is probably your best bet) via

# cpan

If that doesn't work, you might have to start it the long way:

# perl -MCPAN -e shell

(the cpan command, if you have it, is merely a shell script
that runs the long version).

The first time you run this, you'll have to go through a
configuration. Accepting the defaults is fine, but you'll
have to select your closest mirror site based on your
continent and country.

Since you're probably missing some modules, you can ensure
that the basics are up to date:

cpan> install Bundle::libnet
cpan> install Bundle::CPAN

This will ensure that the libnet and CPAN bundles are
current.  A bundle is a predefined group of modules.  For
example, libnet is a set of modules that allow you to do
FTP, HTTP, SMTP, and a bunch of other protocols.  Rather
than installing support for each protocol, they're all in
a bundle.

At some point or another in your use of CPAN, it's going to
want to install a newer version of PERL for you.  You can go
ahead and let it.  Accepting the defaults for everything is
going to be fine, except for the location of PERL itself.
Many distributions (RedHat for sure) install PERL in /usr/,
but the distribution wants to go in /usr/local/.  If you
accept the default, you'll lose support for all previous
modules, and cause confusion for yourself with two different
versions of PERL.  So, make sure you know where PERL is, and
tell the install utility to overwrite it.

The use of CPAN.pm is straightforward.  If you want to find
a particular module, such as an FTP client, you can do a

cpan> i /ftp/

...that will return many files (since one module can have
several sub-modules, you'll see a lot of duplicates).  By
looking at the filename, you can guess which module you
want.  In this case,

Net::FTP        (G/GB/GBARR/libnet-1.0703.tar.gz)

Looks good.  You can then do the install:

cpan> install Net::FTP

CPAN.pm will go out and do whatever is needed to install,
or, if you already have the module, you'll see:

Net::FTP is up to date.

To figure out how to use the module, you can check out the
man page.  In the case of Net::FTP, you'd run

# man Net::FTP

CPAN.pm can save you a lot of time, both in finding a
module to do the work you want, and in installing the
module and dependencies.  It has a friendly interface,
and by reading the output carefully you can usually find
out what you're missing if a problem occurs.

The man page (man CPAN) is very helpful.  For example, it
tells you how to find out what modules are out of date via

# perl -e 'use CPAN; CPAN::Shell->r;'

This being PERL, you could also get it to install the
outdated modules automatically, but I'll let you look that
one up on your own!

Let's hear what you've got to say on the discussion boards.

RedHat Board:

PERL Board:

Finally, feel free to email me with your thoughts and

Long live the Penguin,


2) Linux News

New Distributed.net Client Raises Controversy
"Disputes have arisen in the first few days after the
release of Distributed.net's W2KB client which uses an
inverted code regression algorithm to compute the number
of bugs in Windows 2000.  Accusations are flying between
Team Microsoft and Team Linux about code patches and forged
packets."  Anyone who has participated in distributed.net
before will find this article to be a hoot!


Bring back Gopher!
Gopher was around long before the web.  Think of it as the
Web without hyperlinks in documents.  It's certainly one
way to get rid of the "World Wide Wait", since Gopher is a
very clean way of getting documents shipped around.  Check
out the "Bring Back Gopher" Campaign below to see why we
shouldn't let this time tested protocol die out.


Watch Out For Those Naked PCs
It use to be the common practice--selling a PC with Windows
pre-installed.  With Linux and other free OSs becoming more
popular, vendors are starting to sell PCs without an OS.
This, of course, is not good for Microsoft, so they've
countered with a press release suggesting that this will
lead to widespread piracy. Follow this link for some reasons
why this is not true, and is just another cheap ploy by
Redmond to keep their bottom line safe.


RH7 Advisories
There have been a few updates made to RedHat distributions
in the past week or two.  Most importantly, OpenSSH can be
exploited to steal someone's screen without their knowledge.
There are some other ones there, Pine, GhostScript, and Joe,
so play it safe and make sure your system is up to date.


3) Linux Resources

Patching 101
Most administrators will have to apply a patch to source
code at some point in their lives.  What about when you want
to create a patch file for others?  This short article
explains how to use "diff" to get the differences between
two source trees and dump them into a patch file that can
be applied with "patch".


Perl, or PHP?
Both Perl and PHP can be used to create some great dynamic
web sites.  Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and
only experience can be the true guide of which to choose.
For those just entering the web development scene, this
article is a great primer on the differences between the two.


Drawing Lines in GIMP
GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a Photoshop
quality drawing package for Unix.  Its wide range of
filters and intuitive interface make it a useful tool for
anyone who needs to whip up some graphics.  One of the
more common questions is "How the heck do you draw a
straight line?".  Surprisingly enough, it's not as obvious
as it should be.


Moving the Root Partition
Moving around partitions is a normal task in the life of
a Linux admin.  If /var starts to run out of space, it's
time to get it onto a new hard drive.  What happens when
the root partition needs expanding? There is a lot of
data that resides on this partition that must be handled
carefully.  Follow these instructions, and you won't
have to worry when the system comes back up.


Need Debian Help?
Debian is a popular distribution of Linux, well known for
its strict policies regarding Free (speech and beer)
software. Support for Debian has been largely difficult to
obtain, compared with giants like RedHat.  debianhelp.org
is designed to fix that.


4) App o' the week

Even though X-Windows is network transparent, or most of
your administration can be done via a telnet/ssh session,
there are times when you want a full screen view of your
machine, just like PC-Anywhere.  Or, do you want to control
a Windows machine from a Unix box?  Or a web browser?  How
about giving Windows users their own X-Windows session
without an expensive X-Server on the client end...one that
you can return to after disconnecting, instead of having
to re-open all the applications? VNC is what you want.
It's cross platform, fast, and free.


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