2002 02 14

                    LINUX NEWS
        Resources & Links From CramSession.com
            Thursday, February 14, 2002


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

"Carrier Grade" and "Data Centre" Linux Projects Started
Scribus vs Quark
US Census Bureau Likes MySQL
Miguel Speaks Up on GNOME and .NET

3) Linux Resources

Tips for Reading Code
Linux Wireless Resources
Simple Examples of Socket Programming
CerfCube Discount

4) App o’ the Week

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1) Sean's Notes

Unix is usually given a hard time about being unfriendly.
(And, as the saying goes, it is user friendly, just picky
about who its friends are).  What these people don't realize
is that there are many features built into the shell to allow
you to customize your environment more to your tastes.

The biggest feature in this area is aliasing.  Simply put,
it lets you substitute "ps -ef" every time you type "ps",
or change

dircopy dir1 dir2


tar -cf - dir1 | (cd dir2 && tar -xf -)

Its all up to you.

In either the bash or csh-type shells, you can check out your
current list of aliases by typing "alias"

$ alias
l.	ls .\[a-zA-Z]\* --color=tty
ll	ls -l --color=tty
ls	ls --color=tty
which	alias | /usr/bin/which --tty-only --read-alias --show-dot --show-tilde

(Those seem to be the default in Red Hat 6.x)

I have one machine that I run pine to read my mail, both from
home and work.  This could be a job for my login script, but
instead, I usually type "ps -x" when I log in to see if pine
is already running.  Just to save a couple of keystrokes,
I'll alias that command to "px".

alias px ps -x

Whenever I type in "px", the shell runs "ps -x".  Toss that
in my .cshrc, and it'll be there all the time.

bash users have a different format:

alias px="ps -x"

Of course, a simple substitution isn't anything to write home
about.  The real flexibility comes when you want to supply
parameters within the command.  Above, if we ran:

alias foo bar

and then ran:

foo baz

we'd end up with:

bar baz

This is very helpful, if for example, we wanted to make sure
that every time I typed "rm", I got "rm -i" (prompt for
verification before removing).  What if I wanted "baz" to
appear somewhere within the aliased command, such as
"bar baz bing"?  Bash users take note -- you can't do this.

So called "positional parameters" can be used:

!^  - first argument
!$  - last argument
!:N - Nth argument
!\*  - all arguments

When I'm writing this newsletter, and think I might have
used a URL before, I run

$ grep sometext ~/mail/newsletter

If I run:

alias used grep -i \!^ $HOME/mail/newsletter

I can now type:

$ used sometext

(note the use of the backslash before the !, which
protects it from being expanded by the shell)

So our "dircopy" from above can now be written as:

alias dircopy "tar -cf - \!^ | (cd \!:2 && tar -xf -)"

(Again, quotes protect the |, (), and && from being
interpreted by the shell)

To get rid of an alias, use "unalias":

$ unalias dircopy

If I had that rm -i alias in there as above, and wanted to
perform a delete without being prompted, but didn't want to
unalias rm, I can use a backslash to skip around the alias.

$ \rm -rf somedir

Aliasing within the shell is a quick and easy way to shorten
the number keystrokes without having to write a separate
shell script.  It also lets you feel more at home in your
environment.  Rather run "dir" instead of "ls"?  Use an alias.

Long live the Penguin,


2) Linux News

"Carrier Grade" and "Data Centre" Linux Projects Started
I think this group is more than the usual standards bodies
coming together to agree on what should be obvious. Carriers
have strict requirements, and if Linux can be made to meet
them, perhaps it might have a shot at the digital PBX world,
where Solaris is now pretty comfortable.


Scribus vs Quark
I'm not a desktop publisher, but I know that Quark is the
product that all others are measured by for publishing.
There is work to create a Linux equivalent, called "Scribus".
According to this article, and the comments at the end,
work is going well, and the product may be ready for you
to try, depending on your needs.


US Census Bureau Likes MySQL
Even though they have a site licence for Oracle, the US
Census Bureau finds themselves using MySQL, an Open Sourced
SQL engine for some projects. Some of these projects have
won awards, showing that Open Source tools have what it
takes to compete.


Miguel Speaks Up on GNOME and .NET
Last week, I told you about .NET and GNOME, and how their
paths are going to cross. Miguel, the man who made the
statements, explains what he meant, and why it is perhaps
not such a bad thing.


3) Linux Resources

Tips for Reading Code
Reading someone else's code can be pretty difficult. So in
an environment where being able to read other people's code
is helpful, what do you do? This set of tips will help you
make sense of what that programmer was writing on his late
night coffee binge.


A coworker and I were adding a new disk to a system, and
were puzzling over how to take advantage of the journaling
capabilities of the ext3 filesystem. There are a couple of
extra commands you have to know; this FAQ has it all, and more.


Linux Wireless Resources
Thinking of hooking up your Linux box to a wireless network?
The Wireless HOWTO has some interesting thoughts on how
to go about doing it, including what kinds of cards work.


Simple Examples of Socket Programming
When trying to find some sample code to implement multicast,
I came across this page. Not only does it have a sample
multicast client and server, but also a straightforward
TCP and UDP server. It's all in C, and fairly easy to follow.


CerfCube Discount
The CerfCube is a stackable 3"x3"x3" StrongARM processor,
flash disk-based computer, suitable for use as a small web
server. Looks pretty cool! The price on their web site is
$379, but I'm told that Linux User Group members can enter
promo code CERFCUBE3-5147 and get $80 off.


4) App o' the Week

You'd never guess that this game was written in Perl. This is
a fun puzzle-type game, where you try to get rid of all the
colored balls on the screen by launching other balls at it.
The graphics are polished, and the sounds are catchy. One and
Two player modes are available. I'm completely addicted!


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