2001 07 26

                    LINUX NEWS
              Thursday, July 26, 2001
    Read By Over 6,000 Linux Enthusiasts Weekly!


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

Adobe Backs Off
Kernel 2.4.7 Released
Mandrake to Have an IPO
Big Hole in SSH 3.0

3) Linux Resources

Bootstrapping Linux: An Analysis
Move Over, Procmail
PHP Tutorial
Shell Scripting Tutorial
High Availability Filesystem

4) App o’ the week

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1) Sean's Notes

"RTFM" is the classic answer to the newbie question, usually
a sign from the giver of the answer that the solution is
described in detail in the system documentation.

You may have noticed when you downloaded Linux that you
didn't get a manual.  If you bought it, the printed
documentation doesn't seem large enough to answer all your
questions.  So how are you supposed to RTFM if you don't
have one?

Luckily, the documentation can be found on your computer in
the form of "man pages".  The man system is divided into
sections; each section takes care of a different part of the

1 - Commands
2 - System Calls
3 - Library Calls
4 - Special Files ( usually /dev)
5 - Config File Formats
6 - Games
7 - Macro Packages and Conventions
8 - System Management Commands

Keep in mind that the lines are blurred between the sections,
and that there can be even more sections depending on what
you have installed.

Why the sections?  One example would be that man(1) teaches
you how to use man, while man(7) teaches you how to write
man pages.  (Note the use of parenthesis... this is commonly
used when one wants to be explicit)

Luckily, the man program will search the sections in order.
This is all controlled out of the /etc/man.config file.

Now's a good time to give you an example of how to use man.
Learn about the man.config file with:

$ man man.config

Man pages by themselves are nothing special... Most have a
brief synopsis of the command, lengthy descriptions of the
options, and perhaps an example or two.  After that comes a
very important section -- SEE ALSO.  Most programs will list
their config files in here.  As an example, ask for help on
man itself:

$ man man
       apropos(1), whatis(1), less(1), groff(1), man.config(5).

It's telling you that there are other commands (as specified
by the (1)), and a config file (man.config(5)).

Earlier, though, I said there were two man pages for man...
One in section 1 and the other in 7.  When you typed "man
man", you got 1, so how do you get 7?

$ man 7 man

(users of really old Linux versions, and BSD users take
note -- for this one you'd run man -s 7 man)

That's all well and good if you know what you're looking for,
but what if you're lost?  Let's say you want to add a user.
"apropos" will search the index of man pages for the
substring you pass it.

$ apropos user

Ouch... My machine returned 185 entries.  It just so happens
that the command I'm looking for was at the end, but what if
it wasn't?  The answer to that has nothing to do with man
pages, but with the (IMHO) handiest tool in the System
Administrator's arsenal, grep.

$ apropos user | grep -i create
mysqlaccess \[mysqlaccess] (1)  - Create new users to mysql
newusers             (8)  - update and create new users in
useradd              (8)  - Create a new user or update
                            default new user information

To those just tuning into the world of Linux, I piped the
output of apropos with the '|' character, into the grep
command, which prints out the lines that match the given
substring.  I used "-i", which means to ignore case.

>From this list of three commands, I can see that useradd is
what I want (though newusers looks like one I should tuck
in my pocket for another day).  Pull up the new found man
page with:

$ man useradd

Some environment variables control the way man operates (it
can also be done in /etc/man.config).  Setting PAGER will
change your viewer--by default it's probably less, but
depending on your terminal you may want to make it use more.
Likewise, MANPATH can let you add extra search directories
to the man command.  If you installed some software to your
home directory that makes a man directory, you could have
man search it:

$ export MANPATH=~/man
$ setenv MANPATH ~/man

So, that's the man page system.  Next time you have a
problem, give these techniques a try--maybe you'll save
yourself some time!

Long live the Penguin,


Visit the Linux News Board at

2) Linux News

Adobe Backs Off
"San Jose, Calif. - Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:
ADBE) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today
jointly recommend the release of Russian programmer Dmitry
Sklyarov from federal custody. Adobe is also withdrawing its
support for the criminal complaint against Dmitry Sklyarov."


Kernel 2.4.7 Released
Nothing out of the ordinary in this release of the Linux
kernel, just looks like a lot of cleanups. We should expect
to see the pace of upgrades slowing down now as the kernel
code stabilizes.


Mandrake to Have an IPO
Mandrake, makers of a fine Linux distribution, has announced
their plans for an initial public offering of company stock.
The market they are entering is the French "Marche Libre"
(Free Market), with an initial price of 6.2 Euros (under
$5.50 USD). Congrats, and best of luck!


Big Hole in SSH 3.0
SSH, the Secure Shell, is supposed to protect your system
from hackers. However, if the software itself is buggy, that
doesn't help out! Luckily, it's in the 3.0.0 version, which
is recent enough that most people won't have upgraded.


3) Linux Resources

Bootstrapping Linux: An Analysis
If you're curious as to what happens with the system after
the kernel comes up, you can read through the startup scripts.
But how does the system get to that state? This article walks
you through the process, from BIOS to kernel.


Move Over, Procmail
Procmail's syntax leaves something to be desired. For those
that prefer a programming-like view of mail filtering, Mail
\:\:Audit may be for you. It provides a high level library
that lets you filter incoming mail using perl syntax. Even
those that don't know perl should be able to use this
tutorial to filter mail, as it provides very good examples.


PHP Tutorial
PHP, the ultra-cool server side web scripting language,
still requires that you learn some new concepts to get
going. This tutorial is a good kickstart into the world of
PHP programming, with the intention of giving you enough
knowledge to start making use of the reference material
(ie, the docs) available elsewhere on the site.


Shell Scripting Tutorial
When the document starts off with a quote "When the only
hammer you have is C++, the whole world looks like a thumb.",
you know you're in for a treat. If you've read some of the
other tutorials on the net, you may want to learn about some
more techniques, like functions, that the shell can do for
you. This tutorial picks up where the others leave off...
If this is your first foray into scripting, you'll find
links at the bottom of the article that cover the basics.


High Availability Filesystem
For those systems that just can't go down, but need shared
disks, InterMezzo might be for you. Filesystems can be
replicated across a network, but all the expected locking is
there. As usual, it's Beta, but there seems to be a strong
development team behind it.


4) App o' the week
I'm a big fan of RPM, but it does have some shortcomings.
rpm-get is a simple clone of Debian's apt-get, which does a
good job of resolving dependencies and making upgrades easier.


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