2001 07 05

                    LINUX NEWS
               Thursday, July 5, 2001
     Read By Over 6,000 Linux Enthusiasts Weekly!


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

Microsoft's "Dot Truth"
Estimating the Size of Linux
Linux Standards Base
MS Calls GPL "viral"

3) Linux Resources

MRTG and SNMP Software
12 Steps to Freedom
Sorting in PERL
Call me a Sucker

4) App o’ the week

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1) Sean's Notes
It's been a pretty exciting week.  July the 1st was Canada
Day, the 4th was Independence Day, and the Linux kernel
bumped up a notch to 2.4.6.  If you've been following the
development of 2.4, this is one to grab.  Besides some
important fixes to ReiserFS, there appear to be a lot of
other fixes and improvements.

It's also been a busy week for attacks on Open Source.  On
one of my regular visits to Slashdot, I was startled by this


It seems Adobe is going after the author of KIllustrator for
trying to confuse their trademark.  Even though he immediately
took down his website until it could all get worked out, they
insist that he pay the $2,000 in legal fees, along with a
threat of a $400,000 lawsuit.

I'm no lawyer, but those are pretty nasty tactics.  I for
one will not support a company that makes such threats.

At this point, I'm happy to say I'm Adobe free.  I use xpdf
to read PDF files, GhostScript to write them, and the GIMP
to work with graphics:


xpdf is far faster than the Adobe PDF viewer.  If you're a
Netscape Navigator user like myself, you can set it up as
your PDF viewer of choice from the Edit->Preferences menu,
selecting Navigator->Applications, and finding the option
marked "Portable Document Format".  Change "Handled by" to
"/usr/bin/xpdf %s".  If the option isn't there yet, just
create one with new, using "application/pdf" as the MIME
type, and "pdf" as the suffix. Not only are you making a
statement about Adobe, but you'll notice a significant
increase in startup speed, and less memory used.

To write a PDF file requires a Postscript input, which is
usually easy to obtain under Unix.  (Yes, I realize the
irony of using the Adobe file formats.)  From the command
line, you can run

cat output.ps | gs -q -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=/tmp/test.pdf -

Replace output.ps with the name of your PostScript file, and
the /tmp/test.pdf with what you want the result to be called.
Don't forget that dash at the end of the command.  It
signifies that GhostScript (gs) is to get the input from
STDIN rather than a file.  "cat output.ps" dumps output.ps
to STDIN, and the rest is history.

If you want to be really slick about it, you could create a
print queue that does all that automagically, and emails you
a link to the file.  I'll leave this one as an exercise to
the reader.

On another note, check out the news about Microsoft calling
the GPL and other software "viral software".  This one has
me pretty steamed, but you're spared from hearing my opinion
until I have a chance to see how Microsoft explains this one.

Long live the Penguin,


Visit the Linux News Board at

2) Linux News

Microsoft's "Dot Truth"
Microsoft directly attacks Sun Solaris on this website, with
multiple pseudo articles claiming that Solaris doesn't quite
stack up to NT. It's almost sad to see what Microsoft's
marketing department is willing to try. I think this all
stems from Sun's "Reality Check" column, which makes
comparisons against other vendors (though it is done far
better than dot truth.)


Estimating the Size of Linux
If you had to write all the applications that came on the
Red Hat 7.1 CD, what would it cost you? What is the breakdown
of various licences within the CD? (this one surprised me!)
Believe it or not, someone figured this out, compared it to
previous results from Red Hat 6.2, and came up with some
very interesting numbers.


Linux Standards Base
The LSB is a project designed to increase standardization
across distributions. This will make it easier for all of us
to do our work, not to mention make life easier on the vendors
who may be considering porting to Linux. The first release of
the document is finally out, so it might be a good idea to
see what is in store.


MS Calls GPL "viral"
In the licence for Microsoft's Mobile Internet Toolkit is a
clause stating that it can't be used with "potentially viral"
software, including Perl and Linux. Nope, not abusing their
monopoly position, are they?


3) Linux Resources

MRTG and SNMP Software
MRTG is a great tool for monitoring network traffic. This
page has some helpful advice on how to use it, some Perl
scripts to do some other cool stuff with routers, and even
a Windows front end to MRTG.


LILO is a pretty complex program, a bit of troubleshooting
advice is always welcome. The message in this link has a
great summary of the README file, and some good advice on
how to troubleshoot.


12 Steps to Freedom
Here is a twelve-step program on how to get Microsoft out of
your life. It's not your typical "Microsoft Sucks" site, but
a well thought out Linux advocacy manifesto. Anyone that
considers themselves a Linux evangelist should give this one
a read.


Sorting in PERL
Sorting can be easy or hard, depending on the data you're
dealing with. Perl has some features that you may not know
about, that make sorting easier than you'd think. What I
really like about this article is that it progressively
builds the code, suggesting better ways to do it.


Call me a Sucker
I'm a sucker for online contests. But, can you blame me?
This one is for a Cobalt Raq 4, and all you have to do is
give them a good joke.


4) App o' the week
Looking for a good CAD program for Linux? This one is full
of features, and can read/write AutoCAD files. The Linux
version is open sourced, though there appear to be add-on
packages that you have to pay for.


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