LJ Archive

Letters to the Editor


Issue #12, April 1995

Readers sound off.

Linked Lists

I have been using Linux for a couple of years now, and when I saw your magazine I immediately subscribed. I love it.

Only ONE downside.

...continued on page 46 ...continued on page 44

What's the story with this format? I've got to find it one of the most annoying techniques that magazines use, and cannot personally figure out a reason for it. Skipping a page because of a full page ad is fine-I even scan the ad if it looks interesting. The Economist, a weekly magazine that calls itself a newspaper and runs over 100 pages, does NOT do this and I find it much easier to follow the content and spirit of what the author is trying to get across. Everyone else is breaking up their articles into linked lists-a big drag.

What motivates you to make reading your excellent magazine a chore?

—Graham R. Leach g_leach@pavo.concordia.ca

LJ Responds:

Only one downside? That's pretty good...

We do it only as much as is strictly necessary. Several things determine the need to do this. The first is that we do not impose exact article length limits on our authors, which means that the articles don't come out anywhere near even pages much of the time, and the numbers of advertisements of different sizes may not fit the empty spaces. The second is that we have decided that all one page or more articles must start at the top of a page; we tried not doing that and it looked awful. Another consideration is to start “important” articles near the front of the magazine. Readers expect to find them there but that means that something must be continued to the back half of the magazine. The last consideration is that some articles require color, and we have only so many color pages to work with per issue. The magazine is made up of a number of 16-page “forms” or “signatures” and, in some cases, color is only present on one side of the form. This means that we have to link through the color pages for ads and articles that contain color and then print the non-color material on the other pages. Right now, printing in all color is not affordable. As our press run increases the cost of this additional color becomes less significant. While this will not totally eliminate the “linked list” syndrome it will help decrease its frequency.

When we have more subscribers and advertisers, and can afford to expand the magazine, our options for laying out each article will be widened. Our goal is no articles ever split; although this will probably never be completely possible, we hope to come closer over time.

Linux in Costa Rica

I want to tell how Linux has helped supporting Costa Rica's national network.

We've installed some Linux name and mail servers in the main subdomains of our national Internet networks. Linux is now stable enough for doing administrative chores like nameserving, mail serving and the like.

So CRNet (which is the entity coordinating and giving impulse to our national network) likes the idea of using Linux for these tasks.

In fact, places like the Presidential House, the Universidad Latina (Latin University) and the Veterinary School of the Universidad Nacional use Linux both as name and mail servers.

In the University of Costa Rica (UCR), where I'm working, we are setting up a Linux box as a temporary and limited newsserver.

—Mario A. Guerra mguerra@cariari.ucr.ac.cr


I recently decided to purchase a “real” Linux Distribution. My prime motivation was the fact that I couldn't seem to get my very unsupported Procom CDROM mounted. Don't feel bad, it didn't work under (IN)Coherent, Oh Esse Too, or even well under Windoze. Procom tech support told me simply “We no longer support those old drives”, click...buzz. So I was getting desperate.

I had tried under my old system (Linux 1.0.9), by using the drivers there. I was under the assumption that most of these drives are similar, just VAR-ed under different labels. I thought this might be a Mitsumi. Anyway, I broke down and ordered Release 4 and a supplement from Trans-Ameritech, mostly because they claimed to work under any drive DOS could recognise.

Not only did T-A send the Distribution Release 4 and the July Supplement, they also included a free copy of the November supplement with Debian and Bogus and BSD4.4R2.0. (at no extra cost to me!) Thanks T-A. Unfortunately, the only scheme I could run my disc from was through UMSDOS running from my true DOS partition. I didn't have the room, nor did I want to. I already had a root partition that I wanted. So, I gave up.

Then, on Martin Luther King Day, I was goofing with the system and I decided, on a lark, to do a raw scan of the DOS binary drivers for the Procom drive. I don't know what I was looking for, but I found it-at the tail of the file was the list of some Sony 500-series drives! I knew this latest distribution had some cdu535 stuff on it, so I forced a boot from loadlin (a story in itself) and (TaDa!) I could talk to the disc! But, I went from PL 1.1.18 back down to 1.0.9 . I scanned the distribution again and found a 1.1.18 kernel with cdu535 support and setup installed that nicely! Happy ending! Drop in if you're in the neighborhood and we'll split a Guiness. Have fun, I know I am. Thanks for doing what the big boys couldn't do!

—Mike Allison be381@freenet.hsc.colorado.edu

More Suggestions

I've just gotten my Linux setup working and got a subscription to LJ. I was happily overwhelmed by the depth of information your magazine offers. On that note, I have a few comments/suggestions.

1. Since it appears that Linux is achieving some sort of mass acceptance, it may be in LJ's best interest to appeal to many types of users. I know as much as the next programmer about DOS, more than most about OS/2, but very little about Linux. And I turn to your magazine for help. Unfortunately, I find very little information for the beginning Linux'er. Maybe a beginners column would help? How about a series of articles that covers installation considerations, tips, setup help, and a list of the FAQs and where to get them?

2. I believe that most experienced *nix users expect new users to understand how multi-user systems work. They forget that the “I've outgrown Windows” crowd will be coming onboard and will expect to have their hands held and for their installation routines to handle all the crucial details. My marketing background makes me keenly aware of how first impressions make or break a sale. And you can bet your last dime that Microsoft and IBM will be sucking in new users at a record pace in 1995. So, if you were to include some new user information in your magazine, I'm sure you'd capture a few of the wanna-be's.

Thanks for your time.

—Chris Freyer cfreyer@gate.net

LJ Responds:

1. Part of the problem has been finding authors interested in writing beginning material. We now have several authors interested in this, and more beginning articles will start showing up. Keep your eyes peeled.

2. The first impression means a lot. However, we can't beat the MS marketing machine at its own job. Instead, I think that Linux is and will be for those who have become dissatisfied with MS and (to a lesser extent) IBM. I'm not going to bet that Linux will ever blow MS out of the market. Instead, I'd like it to be the best possible thing for those who are frustrated with the alternatives.

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