LJ Archive


Too Esoteric?

As a former print subscriber, I have been getting some free views of the digital version. The problem I have has nothing to do with print vs. digital, but rather the content. As an individual managing several Linux computers, I am by definition a system administrator, but on a small scale.

When I first subscribed to LJ, each issue had at least one, and usually a few articles that I could get useful information from. But as time went on, things seemed to get more esoteric, more advanced than what I could actually use, so when I realized that a half-year's issues had absolutely nothing of interest, I quit LJ.

I still can relate to Doc Searls' pearls, but not anything else. I write this having just viewed the System Administration issue, but the same has been true for the last several issues. I think you're out of touch with my segment of Linux users.


Wow Greg, we're really sorry to hear that. Our goal is to be relevant for as much of our readership as possible. We recently started The Open-Source Classroom column, hoping to cover an area we thought might be lacking. At the very least, hopefully you'll still garner some good information from our Web site. Thanks for letting us know. Without feedback, we have no hope of meeting our readers' needs.—Ed.

Congrats on the Digital Issues

I still don't get why people are whining about the digital vs. paper issue. I personally receive more than 90% of my information digitally, and I read a lot of books (and other stuff) on my BeBook Neo without problems—or without any annoying problems. Even on my 24" desktop, reading the PDF is okay. And maybe the most important thing is because I'm from Eastern Europe, the paper subscription was not possible for me (postal issues, delays and so on). Because of the digital edition, I'm the proud owner of a subscription now.


Awesome! We're always happy to hear success stories. Thanks for sharing.—Ed.

Why Not Slackware?

I've been a subscriber for at least about ten years, perhaps longer, since Embedded Linux Journal folded. This is one magazine I read thoroughly, because it agrees with what I use a lot of, Linux. I also use the Slackware distribution thoroughly. So the fact remains, why not cover that one? I admit, it's not as easy to use as Ubuntu, but given the fact that Slackware wants the user to do everything that the user wants to do, it just works. There are even third-party repositories. So ideally, the magazine should start being more distribution-agnostic, and if a specific distro is needed, use that one (Slackware).

Gregg C. Levine

You make a valid point, but it's rough for us to force distro-agnosticism on our authors, because they're writing from their experiences. Because Ubuntu and its variants are the most commonly used, it's what we see more often than not. We will continue to strive for non-distro-specific solutions, but we'd rather have accurate articles geared toward a specific distro than commit errors in an attempt to stay “politically correct”.—Ed.

Downloading LJ via wget

In the April 2012 issue of LJ, Bob Johnson, in the Letters section, states that he's having a hard time downloading LJ issues via wget, as he would rather read the PDF file in an independent reader rather than in a browser plugin. I perfectly agree with him, and I have no problem downloading the PDF via wget. Here is how I do it:

  • I click on the link received via e-mail.

  • In the browser that opens, I copy the entire address bar (via Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C). The URL is something like “http://download.linuxjournal.com/pdf/get-doc.php?code=...”.

  • I then type wget and paste the URL, with one very important precaution though. The URL must be enclosed in double quotes, as the parameters are separated by an ampersand (&), which has a special meaning under UNIX/Linux.

It works like a charm! So, if you have the chance to pass that information on to Bob, that would be great!


Thanks Bruno! I suspect a procmail recipe and a little sed/awk magic could make the process completely automatic.—Ed.

LJ Download with wget Possible Solution

I was reading the April 2012 issue, and regarding the letter from Bob Johnson titled “Linux Journal Download with wget?”, I think I may have a solution: the cliget extension for Firefox (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/cliget).

Jordi Clariana

Thanks Jordi. I suspect we'll hear back from Bob. Hopefully, one of these solutions works for him. Thanks again for the suggestion!—Ed.

LJ Android App

After checking many readers on the market for my Android phone (Kindle, Aldiko, PDF-based and so on), I have to admit that the best interface still is yours (Texterity's). Its reflowed text is very good; the graphics look great, and the Navigator (index) is a great way to move between articles. Would it be too much to ask that you try to improve this application further? As great as the Navigator is, if I switch to another task, say to check a phone number, I have to go find the article I was reading again, and the location I was at. Make it remember my last location.

If I do not have connectivity (such as on an airplane), I cannot access the content, as there is some check for connectivity when the application starts. Of course, it was made by developers who do not know what it is not to have an always-on data link, but that is still the case. My data is cached; that's not the issue (I can't even access the library). Make it stop “calling home” when the app is launched for the first time.

Finally, moving between articles in reflowed mode is too easy. What do I mean? The slightest scroll along the x-axis sends me to the next article. The fact that I'm reading on a phone probably exacerbates that (smaller screen), but it still takes 1/4" or less on a 4.3" screen.

That is it. The native app works great; now please fork some love to Texterity so those little annoyances can be fixed (so I can comply with the FAA and actually turn off my phone).


We'll be sure to pass your note to the Texterity folks. I think the “calling home” that happens is Texterity checking for new content, but I'll admit, I'm not sure that's all it's doing. Thanks for the feedback!—Ed.

Yet More Digital Edition Whining

You guys do seem diligent and serious about “going digital right”, providing alternative formats and access techniques for maximum convenience. And, I suppose that you are getting a bit sick of digital edition whining. I trust that reader loyalty has kept this change from hurting your circulation numbers too much. There are two aspects of this that, taken together, bring up a question in my mind: you are quite willing to go to miles of extra trouble to get all alternative formats right, and the reason for going digital is economic. So why not see paper is an alternative format—one that, because of raw economic reality, commands a premium price? Some of your readers (not me!) are quite wealthy (some even have been made that way by application of skills promulgated in LJ). There are any number of boutique publish-on-demand technologies that could turn PDF into paper, for a (probably large) extra cost.

Whatever that cost, some population of those you are losing could choose and would choose to pay it. Even if the cost was so prohibitive that practically no one would choose it, at least the choice would be preserved, and people could feel good about saving themselves money by moving on to digital—rather than the money being saved all going to your corporation. Get your bean counters out of their cages and cost out a “boutique paper” alternative that pays its toll and offer it to your readership! You are doing so much else “right” with going digital, I hate to see you miss this trick.

Dave Carew

Thanks Dave, we really have been working hard on the digital versions. It's hard to remember the days when we only had one layout to work on! As far as the print-on-demand aspect goes, we haven't had much discussion internally about it. I always assumed folks would just send their PDF files to the boutique printers if they wanted paper. It occurs to me, however, that I might be putting my foot squarely in my mouth. Perhaps a commercially produced PDF like Linux Journal would be rejected as a copyright violation or something. We'll have to look into it.—Ed.

Digital Subscription Side Effect

I would think that the geeks all would have loved the digital subscription. I guess not. I enjoyed reading LJ before bedtime. Now I do it on a tablet. A funny thing happened—a side effect. I started questioning myself for keeping old magazines around when I can always buy a DVD of the archives if I really need to. I had only a few LJs, because I bought them from the bookstore and have kept a few hard copies. Now I subscribe to the LJ digital version. This spring cleaning has prompted me to throw out a hundred pounds of archived magazines with topics on radios and electronics and all those IT magazines that presented peripheral articles with no meat. I even had my old NT magazines that I gladly discarded from the 1990s. Thanks LJ for a great product. Keep developing, keep improving and keep your eye on the future. See you at the next SCALE.

Roman Kamienski

That's awesome, Roman. I still get a few paper magazines at work, and I find myself getting annoyed when I misplace them. Linux Journal is always in my pocket now, and on my computer only a click away. I think digital magazines are making me even more forgetful!—Ed.

E-Reader Downloads

I'm sure you're tired of the messages regarding the whole e-reader topic. At first I was dismayed because I love the portability of print, but now I am squarely in the e-reader camp and all of its benefits. Kudos on the digital version. My one gripe, however, is the mechanism by which I can download the EPUB files for my NOOK. The default browser in the NOOK doesn't seem to want to download the files. Is there a way this can be fixed? I keep forgetting to download the issues and sideload them via the laptop. Thanks, and keep up the great work!

Dave Heebner

I don't have a NOOK myself with which to experiment, but perhaps if our group effort to download automatically with wget pans out, an additional step to e-mail the downloaded file as a regular attachment would work.

I'm beginning to picture in my mind a script that scans an IMAP server on the first of every month, and based on configuration options, will save and re-mail the digital versions to the reader as plain attachments.—Ed.

How to Introduce My Son's School to Linux?

I've often heard Richard Stallman argue about why schools should use free software instead of proprietary software. My kids are very young, and they haven't been introduced to computers yet, but I would like their school to start considering GNU/Linux as an alternative to Windows, but I don't know how to do that. I would really appreciate any information to achieve this goal. Maybe you could write an article about this or point me to a previous article that you already have?

Carlos Le Mare

Your timing is perfect! My Open-Source Classroom column this month touches on one way to start introducing Linux in a server room. If you haven't won the hearts of the IT staff, however, it might be rough. If you read the past few months of my column regarding LTSP, you might think about a small classroom-sized install. You'd still need permission from the Principal and IT staff, but if you find the right teacher, you could start a pretty powerful grass-roots campaign. Good luck!—Ed.

Child-Friendly Linux?

My six-year-old has a computer with Ubuntu installed (thanks to dad, of course), and now I am wondering how I can secure the computer. She goes on YouTube and mostly stays on secure channels, but sometimes some not-very-friendly channels come up. Could you describe some ways to make the Web experience for kids better? I have tried the in the hosts file for YouTube, but that stops my kid from even going there, and as I mentioned before, there are some channels that are meant for kids.

Trond Huso

Since YouTube is completely controlled by Google, filtering specific aspects of the site is challenging. You might check out YouTube's education-specific site though: www.youtube.com/education. If that doesn't help, there are sites like www.schooltube.com, but they don't have the same amount of content.—Ed.

Is Synapse Launcher Dead?

I started using Ubuntu and Synapse a little while ago. I learned the Synapse program, and I was very happy with it, and I wanted to give some ideas to the Synapse team. I sent my idea to the launchpad page, but no one replied. I found one of the main developers on his personal blog, and he answered me, “I'm really sorry, but we are both busy with our jobs, so at the moment we are no longer active on Synapse.” You can see it here: https://answers.launchpad.net/synapse-project/+question/192032.

I'm very sad that the project is practically dead—no bug fixes and no updates. Can you let others know? Maybe some other developers would like to continue the project. I know Synapse has many users, and if people know this, they might want to join the project. Thank you.


Sadly, this happens to many, many projects. Often wonderful applications are developed by overworked folks in their spare time. Once that spare time goes away, so do updates. If there is a large user base, you might consider posting to the e-mail list or support forums and hope someone else will take over. I wish I had better news.—Ed.


In my article “System Administration of the Watson Supercomputer” in the April 2012 issue, I made an error regarding the corpus size. I mistakenly had it as 400TB, but the corpus size is actually 59GB.

Aleksey Tsalolikhin

LJ Archive