LJ Archive


Not Renewing

My subscription was a gift, and is in the name of my then-future wife, sometime in 1996. With the demise of the paper edition, you have lost a customer. Electronic “search” capability does not compensate for “flicking through and finding something interesting”. I can use Google to seek something in which I know I am interested. Goodbye.

Ian Stirling

Ian, sorry to see you go. We wish you the best!—Ed.

Digital Subscription

Linux Journal was the only Linux magazine I could find that didn't insult my intelligence by putting a CD (with software I could download for free) in the magazine and tripling the price. And although this may have contributed to the exit of the print version, I thought it showed a great respect for your readers.

So, although I'm not crazy about the digital version, I'll adapt/evolve and enjoy it for many years to come because of your mentality to offer a high-quality product at a fair price.

R. Scott Sanders

The adjustment is frustrating at times, I agree. I'm excited, however, when I dream about the future possibilities with digital. My ideas for flip-book animations were about as crazy as we could get with paper, but the digital format is new. Who knows what the future might hold!—Ed.

LJ Digital Format

I have no plans to buy a Kindle or any other tablet-type gizmo. That is money better spent on oscilloscopes and stuff like that. I was struggling with the PDF format on my Kubuntu Lucid laptop, when I discovered the EPUB format and Calibre. Now we are cooking. I prefer paper, but I want LJ to stay around a good long time, so I bought the CD to help support you. I do miss reading it in the bathroom though.


For quick bathroom reading, smartphones aren't too bad either. I actually like to read the EPUB version using EPUBReader on Firefox. We're glad to have you as a subscriber, even if you're not interested in tablets!—Ed.

Now I'm a Believer

I couldn't figure out why I was unable to find Linux Journal on the magazine racks at my local bookstore. I even made a formal complaint with the manager. So when I found out you had made a permanent transition to digital format only, I was embarrassed. Intent on keeping this magazine and its articles flowing, I went out and bought a NOOK (I had been toying with the idea anyway due to many interesting hacks I had read about).

My one concern is regarding longevity. Eventually this device, the cloud service running it, or the corporation backing it, will fall. What then will I do when I want to read something printed by your magazine a few years before? Do you at Linux Journal not worry about the direction that the cloud and digital-distribution mentality is taking us? Am I the only IT professional in the world that sees the problem with this trend?

Tex Standridge

Nope, you're not alone. I keep digital backups of every .pdf and .epub edition on my computer and backed up on my server. I'm actually really happy that as a company we've decided to offer the cloud-based interactive version, but also provide a DRM-free downloadable version for our customers. It helps me sleep better at night!—Ed.

Hacker Diet

I love the picture on the table contents page of the March 2012 issue: iPad, remote keyboard and half-eaten snack. This must truly symbolize the gentrification (I'd say “yuppinization”, but I think yuppie is passé already) of hacking. Twinkies and Mountain Dew replaced by chocolate croissant and latte?

John McClatchie

I'm a tea drinker myself, but I won't pass up a latte if offered. I can't say I've ever been a fan of Mountain Dew or Twinkies though. I'm not sure what that makes me!—Ed.

wc Is One Too Many

I was just reading my favorite column in Linux Journal, Work the Shell by Dave Taylor, and he pointed out that wc doesn't give an accurate count of characters [see Dave's column in the March 2012 issue]. For example:

$ echo linux | wc -c

This should be 5. First off, I want to thank Dave. I've used wc many times, and I never noticed this before (I guess I mostly use it to count lines and words). After realizing this, I used Google to find out why this is happening. It turns out, wc is counting the newline character. This is because echo, by default, ends the line with a new line “\n”.

A simple fix for this, in the case of using echo, would be to use the -n argument, which tells echo not to put a new line at the end of the line. For example:

$ echo -n linux|wc -c

Thanks again to Dave Taylor for his great shell column. I love that he doesn't just show you how it's done, but that he takes you through his thought processes so you see why he's doing what he is doing.

Kristofer Occhipinti

Dave Taylor replies: Thanks for the kudos, Kristofer. I've never really understood why wc doesn't have a simple flag to skip counting nonprinting characters, which would save vast amounts of fuss. It's even more odd if you think about how C starts array indexing at zero, not one, so there's even more oddness in how things are counted.

Anyway, you're of course right that -n addresses the problem when you're using wc with an echo statement, but if you have a more complicated pipe like this:

find . -name "*.doc" -print | rev | sed 's/[aeiou]//g' | wc -c

then it's hard to figure out where to put the -n flag. Extra credit: what does the above actually do?

iPad and Linode

After reading the article on replacing your laptop with an iPad [see “Swap Your Laptop for an iPad + Linode” by Mark O'Connor in the March 2012 issue], I took advantage of the new iPad release to pick up an iPad 2, and I was surprised to find myself enjoying it quite a bit.

Of course, I had trouble with iSSH because of issues with the Alt and Ctrl key, so I'd recommend using the app called “Prompt” instead. My only problem with it is that I have to use Esc as my meta-key. Otherwise, great article!

Chris King

Why I Will Not Be Renewing My Subscription after Many Years

In September 2011, you decided to stop publishing a portable, permanent, easy-to-use edition of Linux Journal. For six months, I have received monthly e-mails announcing new issues, and when I've had time, I've downloaded the electronic edition, but—and this is crucial—I have not read it. I don't have time to read when I have a computer in front of me. I don't have a touchpad, and not being able to put three or more bookmarks in the magazine, so I can easily move around in it (and see non-adjacent pages almost simultaneously) all make it much less convenient. I was allowed to take paper into areas where my classified computers are maintained too, but I can't take electronic devices in with me (not if I hope to take them out again). Print resolution and contrast can be better on paper too, so the physical act of reading has become less pleasurable. I haven't read Linux Journal in six months, and I see no likelihood of doing so any time soon. If I'm not reading it, I don't get any benefit from it.

By eliminating the print edition, you have reduced the usefulness of Linux Journal to the point where I might as well not subscribe. This is not a threat; I don't expect you to reconsider. I simply wanted you to know why you have lost a reader.

I hope you retain enough readers to continue publishing. It was fun while it lasted.

Mark Fishman

Sorry the new format doesn't work for you. I know a few folks are printing issues out so they can leaf through them, but that seems to be a bit of a kludge at best. Perhaps someday digital readers will evolve enough to create the tactile feel most people miss.—Ed.

LJ Digital and Tablets

Since you went digital, I have enjoyed reading Linux Journal in PDF format on my desktop or notebook computer, but this past weekend, I purchased a Toshiba Thrive tablet, and one of the first things I did was scp the latest issue to the tablet. I have to say, the digital version and tablets are a marriage made in digital heaven, and I can once again take my LJ with me wherever I go. I vote “yes” to the digital version.

Howard Pepper

I agree. Although I enjoy Linux Journal on an E Ink device, there's something magical about seeing it on a full-color tablet. It's almost a bit surreal for some reason. I'm glad you're enjoying the tablet experience!—Ed.

Subscription Site and TrueCrypt

I just got my February 2012 issue, and the digital edition is what most of the Letters are about. I'm just getting used to it. The only complaint I have is that I need my mailing label to access the subscription site (https://www.pubservice.com/SubInfo.aspx?PC=LJ&do=D), and I have to fetch a printed issue to get it.

My second comment is related to the Non-Linux FOSS column in regards to TrueCrypt [see the February 2012 Upfront section]. The distro I work with is Fedora, and there is no TrueCrypt package. The reason literally is “The TrueCrypt software is under a poor license, which is not only non-free, but has the potential to be actively dangerous to end users or distributors who agree to it, opening them to possible legal action even if they abide by all of the licensing terms, depending on the intent of the upstream copyright holder. Fedora continues to make efforts to try to work with the TrueCrypt upstream to fix all of the issues in their license so that it can be considered Free, but have not yet been successful.” (Source: fedoraproject.org/wiki/Forbidden_items#TrueCrypt.)

On the same page, Fedora suggests “tc-play (https://github.com/bwalex/tc-play) is an independently developed TrueCrypt-compatible program under the BSD license. A tc-play package has been submitted for package review for possible future inclusion in Fedora.”

Otherwise, I really enjoy reading LJ from beginning to end. Keep up the great work!


We have fixed the subscriber login page, so you now are able to log in with your e-mail address and zip code. In addition to the login page, the monthly issue download notification e-mail that you receive contains links to your issue archive, so you can download any issues you may have missed, as well as access your subscription account. There is also a Manage your subscription link that allows you to modify your account, renew or access the digital archive.

Also, thanks for the info on TrueCrypt and tc-play. I always feel a bit like I'm in uncharted waters when I highlight a Non-Linux FOSS program. Your feedback is appreciated by me and our readers as well.—Ed.

LJ Digital and Monitors

I was, like many of February's letter-writers, somewhat dismayed by the end of the print edition, but as the compositor for a couple printed journals (no color permitted, adequate paper for halftones, though not great, and certainly not glazed), which have had to be priced at a great deal more per issue than LJ ever was, I do understand the pressures LJ was facing. Some of the problems mentioned don't seem to me really to exist, however. Jim Fuqua, for instance, condemns the full-spread layout of the PDF version, but with any recent version of Adobe Reader, the button just to the right of the zoom percentage box brings up the pages sequentially, one by one, and you can run through the entire journal with the mouse if you want to. (That makes me dizzy. The Enter key works fine for me.) A properly shaped Reader panel will ensure that the paging really works in “fit page” mode.

I am using FC15 at present, and that leads to another consideration. FC15 does a neat job of setting up an auxiliary screen, which can be turned from landscape to portrait mode easily. It is a bit pricier than an e-reader and can't be carried around, but I, like Jim, am a geezer. I ride free on Philadelphia buses, and by this time, I don't even have to show ID. I can't survive the eyestrain caused by any of the e-readers I have yet seen (I fall asleep), but my 24" diagonal auxiliary screen has put up this “Contact Linux Journal” page at something more than 18" diagonal. I can read it with mid-range glasses, sitting back comfortably and not squinnying—at about a 30" distance from the text.

Of course, this is not in the least bit portable, but neither, in any real sense, is my Dell Latitude laptop. If there is an LJ article that I really find useful, I print it off in black and white. One could run through color ink cartridges pretty fast with the saturated colors that the PDF comes in, so I don't even think of printing the entire journal.

I did like the printed version, but as I prune down my set to the last print issue, I will have some much-needed shelf space for other things. The digital edition has the virtue that it doesn't take up much room. I am close enough to the publishing industry and its woes to know that LJ has made the only possible decision.


I love a secondary monitor in portrait mode. One of these days, I'm actually going to buy a monitor designed for it (Dell makes a really nice one, possibly the one you use). For anyone interested in trying it with a “regular” monitor, it's important to realize some monitors have poor viewing angles when you tip them on their side. For looking at a document in portrait mode, however, it's hard to beat!—Ed.

eJournal Is Still Pleasurable to Read

At first, I wasn't sure about the paperless LJ; I really prefer to read stuff on paper. PDFs tend to have small print, even on my old 19" 1280x1024 LCD. But you seem to have boosted the point size a little, and reading on-screen really is rather pleasurable.

As to paying for a subscription to the magazine, I paid for access to the information, not the paper. In fact, I started with IEEE Micro. When that went away, I subscribed to Embedded Linux Journal. When that folded, my subscription was transferred to LJ, which has now become, in a way, eLJ. And, I'm still reading interesting articles about different aspects of Linux, hardware and computing in general.

The more things change, the harder it is to peel the orange. Change is inevitable; what matters is how we manage that change and cope with it.


Thank you for the kind words! I have noticed the layout, while still magazine-shaped on the PDF, is a bit different and looks nice on a computer screen. I don't know the exact details about what changed, but I think it looks good both on a computer and on a color e-reader. I'm glad you're enjoying it.—Ed.

LJ Archive