LJ Archive


Commons Interests

Regarding Doc Searls' EOF in the June 2010 issue: you didn't do anything wrong with your ice pictures. They are yours to distribute as you like. All the critics of how you handled things are just jealous! My understanding of the Creative Commons license is just like the GPL—the license means others can use your copyrighted work without explicit permission as long as they abide by the license. If they want to use it in another way, they must get your permission, just as they would if you hadn't placed it under Creative Commons (or GPL, etc.).

NBC requested a special license, and you gave them one. So what?

If you had never placed your work under a Creative Commons license, NBC never would have found it, and it never would have been used. Bonus to you!

The license requirements under Creative Commons, GPL and similar licenses, apply only to use without permission. If you get permission from the copyright owner to use the object under different terms, you are free to do so.

NBC probably should have asked for something in writing just to protect themselves and verify the alternative license (and perhaps they did), but otherwise, I don't see how they were bound by the terms of the Creative Commons license you published the photos under.

Alan Shea

Which Is It?

Just curious as to which Distro logo is the one between Ubuntu and Debian on the front cover of the June 2010 issue (www.linuxjournal.com/forums/june-issue-194).



Grandparents Are Power Users Too

I am a subscriber to your magazine, and I do not appreciate Dan Sawyer's comment “grandparents incapable...” [see “Philosophy and Fancy” in the June 2010 issue]. I have installed many dual-boot distributions, and I program a little when I need to in shell, awk and some C. And, with great assistance from my children, I installed LFS from source. I've also worked on recompiling the kernel, but I don't like to do it.


Dan Sawyer replies: The hypothetical grandparent who is unfamiliar with/afraid of technology is a longstanding hypothetical user in the geek world, just as is the teenager who knows everything about computers. Neither of these hypothetical people are meant to imply that all teenagers are geek gods or that all grandparents are technophobic. It's just a long-established shorthand for talking about idealized user types in a way that's instantly accessible, in the same way that “Soccer Moms” are an idealized voter demographic.

Apologies for the offense, and welcome to the power-user club!

The Magazine and the Digital Edition

I subscribed about a year ago, but having read the issues I received, I decided to not renew, because almost all the articles were well above my capability of understanding. My wife and I are merely ordinary computer users who, having become annoyed with Microsoft Windows and its myriad problems, decided to try Ubuntu Linux two years ago. Both she and I have Ubuntu installed on our respective computers (9.10, soon to be upgraded to 10.04), and we've never looked back.

As I said, the overwhelming majority of your articles are of no interest to me, but then came the May 2010 issue with two extremely interesting and useful articles (useful to me, and I'm sure others): “Full Speed Ahead with Handbrake” by Anthony Dean and “Comparing Five Music Players” by Bruce Byfield.

These are the type of articles I would like to see more of in the magazine! After reading Mr Dean's article, I immediately installed Handbrake, and following his detailed instructions, I was able to use it to convert some of my videos. And, one of these days (when I can overcome inertia), I'd like to comment on Mr Byfield's article.

So I decided right then and there to renew my subscription, and I added the digital edition as well.

I received my first digital edition today, and I have to state that I am disappointed. The disappointment comes from the way it's formatted. Like most digital magazines, one must scroll up and down the pages. If I adjust the file so each page fits completely on one screen, the print is too small to read. (My computer has a 15" screen.)

I had hoped that Linux Journal would have its digital edition formatted in the manner of Full Circle Magazine. Have you seen that magazine? That is the way a digital magazine should be formatted. Each page fits completely on the computer screen, and the print is easily read. Reading columns is quite easy in this format; no scrolling up and down and up and down is necessary. And to read further, you merely click on “next page” button.

So, in conclusion, I'd like to say that I sincerely hope you will publish more such “basic” articles as those two I mentioned above; more of these would make the magazine truly useful to computer “unsophisticates” such as myself. (Of course, your current types of articles should continue to be published for those who can appreciate them.) And, I'd like to suggest that you consider reformatting the magazine's digital edition in the manner of Full Circle Magazine. Thank you for reading this and for considering my suggestions.

Lawrence H. Bulk

Thank you for bringing the “tech level” matter to our attention. It's always our goal to bring content that covers our entire readership, but sometimes we need to be reminded when we are leaving a group feeling a bit left out.

As far as the digital issue goes, it's been an ongoing discussion and struggle for more than a year now. I'm confident someday we'll have a perfect eBook version of Linux Journal available, but right now, the PDF offers fewer sacrifices in layout quality and maintains the look of the print magazine. We realize it's not ideal, but so far, it is the best option we have. I haven't seen Full Circle Magazine, so I'll have to check it out.—Ed.

LJ Infects Another

I have been buying Linux magazines, but most of them are so expensive. Then I found a copy of Linux Journal without DVD—really, who needs it? Digital subscription—ooh yeah! You just “infected” another Linux user in the country of cheese (The Netherlands).

Chihwah Li

I'm thrilled you found a copy of Linux Journal! For folks in other countries, the digital edition can be a great way to get a timely and affordable subscription. I'm glad it works for you. Welcome to the family!—Ed.

webOS Left Out

In the June 2010 Point/Counterpoint (“Mobile Phones”), it was obvious neither party knew of the Palm webOS mobile platform. This is by far the most Linux hacker-friendly mobile OS out there. For example, OpenOffice.org and Xorg were just ported to the Palm Pre (bit.ly/aUlWOv)! Palm (and hopefully now HP) openly supports the Linux community. See www.webos-internals.org/wiki/Main_Page for more.


Kyle Rankin replies: We are both well aware of the webOS platform, but we decided to limit our scope to Android, Maemo and iPhone devices (the latter mostly so I could troll Bill). We had to draw the line somewhere, so mobile OSes like webOS, Symbian and Windows Mobile were left out. Plus, at the time we wrote the column, the future of webOS looked pretty grim, but hopefully, we'll see new interesting things on the platform now that HP has breathed new life into it.

Bill Childers replies: Although webOS is on my radar (I have a Pre+ sitting on my desk neglected and unused here), Kyle and I tend to write about what we know best. Point/Counterpoint is all about immediate off-the-cuff responses. The column wasn't meant to be a shootout of mobile platforms, but rather it was aimed at arguing about what works for each of us in daily life. Thanks for mentioning webOS though!

Linux on Non-x86 Platforms

Kira Scarlett's article in the June 2010 issue on platforms other than x86 was very interesting. I've been trying to do a desktop install on an HP rx2600 Itanium machine. I've tried both Ubuntu 8.04.1 IA64-LTS and Debian 5.04 IA64. In both cases, when trying to use the admin GUI tools—network-admin, users-admin, time-admin and services-admin—the apps fail. The app will appear greyed out briefly, then it disappears. On Ubuntu, launching from a console returns Segmentation Fault. No message appears on Debian. I've tried reinstalling the desktop on both, but I get the same result. Great mag!

Mike Robinson

Tech Tip

On the Linux Journal 101 Tech Tips DVD, you talk about using rsync with copying large amounts of files. There is also a command-line option for the cp tool that does the same thing. It is -u or --update, for example: cp -u /media/cd/*/srv/copyofcd. I just thought I'd pass this along—thought it might be helpful.

Michael F. Trombley Jr.

Thanks for dropping us a line. I wanted to point out that cp -u is not a good or reliable substitute for rsync. Using cp -u causes cp to copy the file only if the destination is missing or is newer than the source. Try the following:

$ cd /tmp
$ mkdir a b
$ echo TEST >a/c
$ echo test >b/c
$ cp -u a/* b/
$ cat b/c

You'll see that b/c was not updated to match a/c (it still contains “test” and not “TEST”). Because b/c was created after a/c, cp doesn't update it. Now, try:

$ rsync -a a/ b/
$ cat b/c

Here, you'll see that b/c equals a/c. rsync updates files if the contents of the source files are different from the contents of the destination files.

Furthermore, if cp decides to update a file, it copies the entire file from the source to the destination. On the other hand, rsync essentially breaks the file into chunks and copies only the chunks that have been modified. It's not a big deal on small files or across your local network, but with large files or across slow networks, this can make a huge difference in how long the update takes.—Ed.

Thanks for the June 2010 Issue

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the June 2010 issue of LJ. I always read Mick Bauer's Paranoid Penguin column, but I also enjoyed Mike Diehl's Pogoplug review as well as Dirk Elmendorf's article on library programs (I am a former Library Board President as well as a user of Alexandria). Bruce Byfield's article on MINIX was interesting to read, as was the article by Dan Sawyer. I currently use Ubuntu 10.4, but I also have used Fedora in the past and other members of my LUG use Mint and even Slackware. We have experimented with SUSE, Debian and MEPIS as well. Michael J. Hammel's article was a good reminder of why we do backups. In short, I found lots of great reading in the issue and thought I'd pass along my compliments to you.

Brian Clark

Every once in a while, a particular issue feels like it was written “just for me”. It looks like the June 2010 issue did that for you. Thank you for your kind words, it's great to hear positive feedback. Hopefully, you'll keep getting “Brian Clark Issues” in the mail!—Ed.

Thanks for the Music Player and Distribution Reviews

Thank you, Linux Journal, for Bruce Byfield's music player review in the May 2010 issue. I was using Rhythmbox, but now I am trying out Exaile. It is a better product in terms of configurability and ease of use. I wouldn't have changed if I hadn't read the review.

As far as the Distribution issue [June 2010], I didn't get one of my questions answered. What distribution can I use successfully with my own kernels? I remember using Red Hat 9 and Fedora 2–4, and if I configured a custom kernel from the source, it had significant performance improvements over the standard kernel. But when it came time to update, the package manager would complain vehemently about the use of a nonstandard kernel. I was wondering if there was distribution that was friendlier to custom kernels or a way to tone down the package managers insistence on being the sole authority on software compatibility.


YaST, which is used by openSUSE, has the ability to lock a package so that it no longer gets updated. That would allow you to lock your existing kernel, install a custom one and then avoid having YaST complain later. Synaptic, the package manger on Ubuntu and others, has a similar feature that allows you to lock the currently installed package.

I should note that I've never actually used these features so I can't tell you for sure that they work or that they won't still complain if you install a custom kernel.—Ed.

Distro Chart Correction

Regarding the Linux Distribution chart in the June 2010 issue: I've been using Linux (to a greater or lesser degree) since the mid-1990s (I still have my Yggdrasil Plug-and-Play Linux CD somewhere) and thought the chart very interesting (especially the column on “Best For”), because I'm looking for a replacement for Ubuntu 9.04 right now. However, whoever researched the chart needs to learn a little more, as you have the “First Release” date for Debian as 8/16/2003. According to DistroWatch, its first release was 6/17/96 (and I still have an old Infomagic CD set with Debian 0.93R6 dated April 1996 as physical proof). Tables are a great way to order information, but only if it's accurate information. Other than that, thank you for your magazine. It's been a treasure to read for many years.

Jamie Dimmel

Justin Ryan replies: Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I noticed it, much to my horror, shortly after the issue went out, but I knew a sharp-eyed reader would provide the opportunity to correct it. Sadly, like software, articles sometimes suffer from bugs, and some inevitably slip through. Thankfully, “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”. I appreciate that you were on the (eye)ball.

The date in question was intended to be August 16, 1993, the date Ian Murdock founded the Debian Project. According to Debian's A Detailed History, “Debian 0.01 through Debian 0.90 were released between August and December of 1993” (www.debian.org/doc/manuals/project-history/ch-detailed.en.html). The June 1996 releases were the 1.0 series, released after Murdock left the project and Bruce Perens took on the role of Debian Project Leader.

Thanks for your attention to detail and for providing the opportunity to highlight Debian's important place in the Linux community—as one of the oldest distributions still in active development (after Slackware), as the mother-distro of many other well-respected distributions, and as a reliable, innovative and rock-solid distribution in itself.

Hardware Drivers

Perhaps I'm not getting it! I started messing with Linux since RH-3, and I'm still puzzled about what the hardware manufacturers are thinking. When I buy a piece of hardware, what OS platform I decide to use it on is my business. Manufacturers don't sell you the hardware and drivers separately; usually the drivers come with the hardware. Having to find and configure drivers should be old news by now! My MB has built-in ATI HD3200 graphics chips, but I'm having an awful time getting it to work with openSUSE 11.1. On top of that, ATI's repository link isn't working. If I buy the hardware, I've already paid for the driver! That disc should have drivers that support the Linux kernel; the manufacturer has already made its money from the purchase.

On a side note, I'd like to thank all those at LJ for producing such an informative no-nonsense magazine.


My only encouragement is that misery loves company. I feel your pain, and if you're a regular reader of the print magazine or Web site, you've probably heard me rant about vendors, hardware and driver support in the past. Thankfully, few companies make an effort to provide drivers (NVIDIA comes to mind), but I'm not sure they ship Linux drivers on the CDs either. Hang in there.—Ed.

Photo of the Month

Have a photo you'd like to share with LJ readers? Send your submission to info@linuxjournal.com. If we run yours in the magazine, we'll send you a free T-shirt.

Two-week-old William Eidsness finds comfort in his open-source future. Father of two-week-old finds comfort in anything that makes William sleep. Submitted by Andrew Eidsness

LJ Archive