2001 11 22

                    LINUX NEWS
       Resources & Links From CramSession.com
            Thursday, November 22, 2001


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

But I Thought They Stopped That
Case Study: Whackabilly Toy
Red Hat Makes Offer to Microsoft

3) Linux Resources

Avantgo for Linux
Unreal Tournament for Linux
Setting Up A Web Email Archive
DOS Advice From CERT

4) App o’ the week

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1) Sean's Notes

I really did a number on my system this week.  Figuring I'd
like to see what 2.4.14 has to offer, I built it for my Red
Hat 7.1 system, ran lilo, and rebooted.


Normally, LILO (the LInux LOader) displays LILO on the screen,
then boots Linux.  This time, though, it sat at LI.  A quick
trip to the README file for LILO told me that this meant:

"The first stage boot loader was able to load the second
stage boot loader, but has failed to execute it. This can
either be caused by a geometry mismatch or by moving
/boot/boot.b without running the map installer."

Seeing as I re-ran LILO, my guess was the geometry mismatch.
However, the system had been running fine for quite some
time.  When this has happened in the past, I've found that
/etc/lilo.conf didn't have the "linear" option, which changes
the way LILO maps larger drives.

Out comes the Red Hat 7.1 install disk, and "linux rescue"
is entered at the first prompt to get me to a shell.  Sure
enough, lilo.conf looks fine.  Just to be on the safe side,
I'll try it again.

# chroot /mnt/sysimage	# Rescue disk mounts the disk on /mnt/sysimage
			# so remap that to the root
# /sbin/lilo		# Rebuild boot sector
# sync			# Flush filesystems

>From there, I exited until the system rebooted.  Same thing.

Seeing as though I wanted to get this system back up quickly,
I figured I'd make a boot disk.  Back in recovery mode, I
copied the kernel to the disk:

# dd if=/mnt/sysimage/boot/vmlinuz-2.4.2-2 /mnt/sysimage/dev/fd0
# rdev -r /mnt/sysimage/dev/fd0 /dev/hde1

The first command copies the kernel from my hard drive to the
device file for the floppy.  The second one sets the root
filesystem flag (-r) for the image on the floppy to /dev/hde1,
my old root filesystem.  Reboot.  Hang.  Argh.

Just for fun, I grabbed a DOS floppy and tried to boot off
that.  Nothing.  Turns out my disk drive is broken.

Now's a good time as any to try to upgrade to Red Hat 7.2 and
try out the new boot loader, GRUB (GRand Unified Bootloader).
The install was nothing new over 7.1, but upon reboot, I got
"Hard Disk Error", which is only slightly more helpful than
my previous "LI".

GRUB is fairly feature rich.  One of the main advantages is
that it understands the underlying filesystem.  Therefore,
it is smart enough to read your /boot system and figure out
which kernel image it should load.  No having to run "lilo"
each time a change is made!  Alas, if it can't even boot, I
can't take advantage of those features.


Skipping forward a bit, I threw in a drive into /dev/hda
(primary master), and installed Red Hat 7.2 on it.  Booted
into that, and looked at /boot/grub/grub.conf:

title Red Hat Linux (2.4.7-10)
        root (hd0,0)
        kernel /vmlinuz-2.4.7-10 ro root=/dev/hda2
        initrd /initrd-2.4.7-10.img

All I had to do then was change the "root" to /dev/hde8.
Rebooted, and I was back at my old system.  The upgrade had
got rid of my Ximian-GNOME distribution and messed up Perl,
but that was it.

So, what's the moral of the story?  I think I can draw a few.

- Don't panic.

- Learn how the system boots.  Had I not known, I might have
  panicked in step 1, and reformatted (losing my data).  Also,
  test alternate methods of booting if you're going to rely
  on them.

- Keep data on a separate partition from binaries.  At the
  worst, you can sacrifice the other partitions.  Back up.

- If you're going to go outside the package management system
  and install software from source, make sure that the RPM
  isn't left around.  That's why Perl was messed up.  Apache
  was fine, because I had uninstalled the Red Hat package
  before my initial install.

- Keep a recovery disk handy.  For the longest time I used to
  use a Slackware rescue disk, but now I find the Red Hat
  install disk works much better.  I saw an ad for a small
  (64M) USB based RAMdisk that fits on a keychain.  Now that
  would cook!  I'm also told that knowing the ins and outs of
  the recovery disk is essential for the RHCE.

Long live the Penguin,


Visit the Linux News Board at

2) Linux News

But I Thought They Stopped That
A while ago, Dell stopped offering Linux as an option for its
desktop line of products, citing lack of interest. They've
come out with a letter explaining their current position,
which seems to be that they're offering it to large companies
on servers and higher-end machines, but not on their regular
lines of desktops. I find it somewhat annoying that you're
still forced to buy a Windows licence on a desktop, even if
you want to run Linux.


John Dvorak gives his take on what Lindows (Linux that runs
Windows apps) needs to succeed. While I think he's being pretty
optimistic, he makes several good points in his article.


Case Study: Whackabilly Toy
Yea, so the company is made up, but the numbers don't lie.
This TCO study follows the transition of a manufacturing
company's move of their E-Commerce and manufacturing systems
from NT to Unix. THe study does a good job of looking at the
people side of the equation, such as the number of servers
required to run under NT or Unix, and how many people would
have to maintain them.


Red Hat Makes Offer to Microsoft
As part of the settlement, Microsoft is donating computers
and software to schools. Of course, the majority of the
donation is in software, which costs virtually nothing for
Microsoft to donate. Red Hat's offer? You spend all the money
on the computers, and we'll give the software!


3) Linux Resources

FTP over SSH isn't news, OpenSSH does it quite well. However,
all of those legacy applications that implement FTP themselves
probably won't run in a secure mode.  Enter the port forwarding
features of SSH...


Avantgo for Linux
I've been a Palm Pilot owner for quite some time. After
picking up a cheap Palm modem, I decided to load up Avantgo
(off/online web browser). No surprise, the client software
is Windows only. This link is their approved Linux substitute.


Unreal Tournament for Linux
Stop rebooting just to play Unreal Tournament from Windows!
This patch from Loki games allows you to install the Windows
CD on your Linux box and run natively.


Setting Up A Web Email Archive
If you'd like to archive email to a web page, perhaps that
from a mailing list, then this is for you. Using HyperMail
and Apache, the author of this article shows how to
generate a well formatted archive of email traffic.


DOS Advice From CERT
CERT does their best to watch out for the Internet. This
announcement talks about various denial of service (DOS)
attacks, and how to prevent them.


4) App o' the week
Tactical Operations is a mod for Unreal Tournament. Since
the game itself works on Linux, it's only fair that the mod
does too. Play on either the Special Ops or Terrorists
squads, and try to prevent the other side from completing
their mission. Highly addictive.


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