2002 04 11

                    LINUX NEWS
        Resources & Links From CramSession.com
             Thursday, April 11, 2002


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

Loki: A Promising Plan Gone Terribly Wrong
Red Hat to use CVE Naming
Open Office, Almost 1.0
Religious Wars

3) Linux Resources

'cal 9 1752' Explained
Lots O' Tutorials
mod_perl in 30 Minutes
QCAD Tutorial
Speed Up Samba!

4) App o’ the Week

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1) Sean's Notes

I've been on DSL for ever since I can remember.  Well, that's
pushing it, but it's been a good three years.  For the most
part, I've weathered the upgrades, including having to move
over to that ugly PPPoE (PPP over Ethernet) standard that
many DSL providers have gone to (even though where I live,
you can only really buy it from one place)


The latest series of upgrades to the DSL network promised
much higher speeds.  By pushing the DSLAM (a sort of
concentrator) out to the neighbourhood (rather than back at
the main office), the speeds can be increased.  If a building
weren't in the way, I'd be able to make out an ugly looking
cabinet down the street where my phone line plugs into,
splitting off my voice and DSL service.

Until a few months ago, I'd never had to call tech support.
Outages were infrequent, I'd just wait an hour and my system
would be back up.  However, after waiting around 12 hours
one time, I finally called the support line.  After waiting
on hold for 30 minutes, I talked to a support representative
who eventually told me that someone was working on the DSLAM,
and that service would be restored soon.  True to his word,
service was restored later that day.

(and now you start wondering when he's going to work Linux
into this)

A few days later, the service goes down again.  Looking
outside, I don't see anything.  Call tech support.  Wait
40 minutes for a human.  Lights green?  Check.  Filters in
place?  Check.  Reboot modem?  Check.  "What error message
are you getting?", I'm asked.

"Well, I'm not getting anything.  I'm running Linux, I get a
message that the system is trying to initialize, but it's not
getting a response.  I can see the packet counters, and I've
verified I'm not getting any responses".  Oops.

The answer is simply, "Oh, we don't support Linux", to which
I reply "I'm not asking you to support my Linux box, I'm
trying to find out why I don't get any responses."  Soon
after, he claims that someone will look at it on their side,
and we end the call.  12 hours later, and service is restored.

"Freak occurrence", I tell myself.  Until the next time it
happens.  40 minutes on hold.  Check.  Lights, filters, reboot.
Check.  Yep, running Linux.  No received packets.  Telco
doesn't support Linux.

This time, I couldn't even get the call escalated, I was told
I was on my own.  (Actually, first I was told I should try
changing some settings, because "Linux has a lot of settings")
So I did what anyone would have done.  I switched to cable.

Time to draw a couple of lessons from this.

If you're running a customer support organization, it's one
thing to say "we don't support Linux".  Fine.  Don't.  But
please recognize when it's a problem with the OS ("How do I
install Netscape?"), or a problem that could be on your end
("I can't connect to your web site").  I would have been much
happier in my case if I'd been passed on to someone that would
have at least humored me, and tried to find out why I wasn't
getting a response.  I'm willing to accept that the problem
is on my end, I just want someone to show me why.

If you are running your email off a cable or DSL connection,
use a site like dyn.dhs.org for one of your MX records.
You'll quickly be able to redirect your mail to your new
address, rather than waiting for normal timers to expire.
On the same token, the email address for the technical contact
on any domains should not depend on your own email service
being up.  Some registrars require you to initiate changes
through email.

I'd be interested in hearing of any stories, good or bad, of
your Linux tech support experiences.  Maybe I was unlucky and
got a couple of new techs.  Maybe I'm not the only one.

Long live the Penguin,


2) Linux News

Loki: A Promising Plan Gone Terribly Wrong
I'm not sure what it is about the Loki story that makes me
read every article about it. Now that some of the finances
have been investigated a bit more thoroughly, this article
was able to untangle some of the web that hid just how shady
the owners were.


Red Hat to use CVE Naming
The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures naming scheme has
been adopted by Red Hat. What this means for you is that it
should be a bit easier to correlate vulnerability reports
with the patches that come out. What I hope it doesn't mean
is that Red Hat will fall for any of that so-called
"Responsible Disclosure" garbage that is being proposed by
the likes of Microsoft.


Open Office, Almost 1.0
Open Office sprung from Star Office. Now that the latter is
not going to be free for use, Open Office becomes one of the
next best things. The latest release, build 641d, is the
final one before 1.0. Download it, give it a shot, and send
in your feedback! So far, I've been able to open all my
documents, and some bugs that I found in Star Office 6.0
beta have been fixed.


Religious Wars
Nothing like a religious war to stir up a board! This time,
it's the KDE vs GNOME debate. Which is your favorite? Why?
KDE's beating GNOME at the moment!


3) Linux Resources

'cal 9 1752' Explained
cal is a program that prints calendars for any given date.
The calendar for September 1752 is quite odd because,
according to the man page: "The Gregorian Reformation is
assumed to have occurred in 1752 on the 3rd of September.".
Of course, not thinking to look there first for the
explanation, I stumbled across this web page offering a
different perspective.


Lots O' Tutorials
There are nearly 20 short tutorials on this site, mostly
centred around web programming. The three Perl tutorials,
and the basic UNIX for Web developers are well worth going


mod_perl in 30 Minutes
mod_perl is an Apache module that lets you precompile Perl
code within the web server. Trust me, there is a huge speed
improvement! This article goes over the installation, and a
rather painless way to covert existing CGIs (most will run
untouched!). It finishes off with a small taste of other
things that this versatile module will let you do.


QCAD Tutorial
QCAD is a great 2D CAD tool for Linux. It is quite powerful,
but its usability leaves something to be desired. With this
tutorial in front of you, though, you shouldn't have much
difficulty producing professional drawings.


Speed Up Samba!
Windows users complaining that their file sharing is too
slow? It might be time to tweak some settings in smb.conf.
Here are a bunch of hints, direct from the Samba team.


4) App o' the Week

Who would have thought a 3D tank game would be so addicting?
Pilot your tank around a field and destroy other tanks,
either in teams or alone. Collect flags to give different
powers, or sometimes you pick up a dud which takes away
something. It's all network based, and loads of fun. It
requires Mesa or other OpenGL libraries.


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