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Slashback: HAMnation, Books, Criticism 105

An update on the health of troubled HAM satellite Oscar 40; a bit more on free online books -- but this time all good news; a nice in-depth report on the state of Mandrake's latest offering; and an earth-shattering change to the previously reported report from the Real-Time Linux Workshop. That (and absolutely no expression -- none whatsoever -- of wishes for you to experience a pleasant millenium turn) is what you'll find below in tonight's Slashback.

Reversing the dilithium crystals is not an option in this case. $FFh writes: "AMSAT-DL President (and P3D Project leader) Dr. Karl Meinzer, DJ4ZC, provided ANS with additional information regarding AO-40's recent S-band transmissions on 2401.305 MHz:

Ian, ZL1AOX, has succeeded in loading IPS software and a minimal operational package into AO-40. As a consequence, AO-40 is now sending telemetry (A blocks) that will enable an analysis of the status of the spacecraft.

A first (quick) look has revealed that some temperature sensors and possibly some current sensors have been lost by whatever incident caused the telemetry transmissions to stop. However, the power situation, in particular the battery voltages, look nominal.

We will now start a detailed analysis of the situation; the command stations will continue to follow a conservative philosophy with the primary target of not causing any additional damage along with retaining as much evidence as possible for the analysis of the incident.

Furthermore, command stations will now try to uplink the entire operational software package, which in particular should establish positive control over the power generation system. From there on, the communications capabilities of the spacecraft will be explored. The 2-meter transmitter is considered off limits for the time being (in case that it may have been damaged and thus might have the potential to cause the IHU to crash). The risk is too large before the Warte-Orbits and Command-Assist programs have been updated to reflect the actual capabilities of the satellite available after the incident.

In summary, we can state that the command stations have now regained control over AO-40. During the next few days we hope to learn to what extent the satellite was damaged and to what extent this will impact mission targets."

Read up -- then spread some praise or some griping! bcrowell writes: "The Assayer is a web site for user-contributed book reviews, with a focus on free books. All reviews are free information. We now have 35 free books on computer science in our database, almost all without reviews. A common argument against free books is that without a publisher, there's no way to filter out the junk -- if you'd like to prove otherwise, it's time to do some reading!"

Dissecting Mandrake 7.2: Beyond Eye Candy Linux Tests writes: "Linux Tests published their first review of a distribution. Linux-Mandrake 7.2 was chosen as the first victim -- umm -- first distribution. Linux Tests did the installation several different ways over several weeks timeframe in order to answer the age old question, "Is this right for someone new to Linux?" Find out if this distribution answers the question well."

Their review reflects my experience with Mandrake 7.2, as well -- some glitches, a lot of slickness, and some problems with the manual vs. reality. (On the other hand, Mandrake remains one of only two distributions I would recommend to parents and siblings at present.)

The Linux Tests' site looks like a great resource, too -- three guys grousing is a cool basis for a web site! It will be nice when hardware manufacturers realize that a perhaps small but significant fraction of their buying audience is paying a lot more attention to their products then they may be used to. Publishing specs is always nice, eh?

Now kiss, make up, and have fun, ok? DaGoodBoy writes: "John Roderick, the Director of Rosen Interactive, contacted us with a rebuttal to some of the statements our member Kenneth J. Hendrickson in his recent "Report on the 2nd Real-Time Linux Workshop" which ran here on Slashdot. Details are available here"

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Slashback: HAMnation, Books,

Comments Filter:
  • Mandrake 7.2 is a nice installation, but there is a problem compiling with g++ and sys/io.h. I ended up just grabbing io.h from my Redhat 6.2 box and everything is fine now
  • (On the other hand, Mandrake remains one of only two distributions I would recommend to parents and siblings at present.)

  • Win2k was a different matter. It didn't like the new on-board IDE controller and blue-screened upon bootup.

    Did you read any of the help files beforehand? Win2k does NOT like you changing hardware, ever... especially if your motherboard is using ACPI. I had problems with a simple upgraded driver for the on-board IDE as well - I had to boot to a command prompt in recovery mode and enable the default IDE device, then get back into Windows and uninstall the new drivers. By the way, those were VIA's latest 4-in-1 drivers a month or two ago.

    I don't necessarily think Win2k is evil... but I do think ACPI is. Anyone else got an ECP parallel port set to DMA 0 when 3 isn't being used by anything? Damn shitty Compaq Presarios... Oh well.

  • You bet correctly. Only 2 things have changed. Changed wording from "uploads" to "outgoing transfers" and "downloads" to "incoming transfers." There's not even any new options. Too bad someone who can't code worth dick had to invent napster.
  • by WebCowboy ( 196209 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @05:16PM (#539198)
    There is absolutely NO excuse for requiring a re-install of the operationg system when hardware changes. In my opinion, that is a serious liability. What happens if you have a motherboard failure (stuff like that happens), and the motherboard is discontinued, or now ships with another bios or is a newer revision. I agree totally that motherboards are not all the same (I'm not that naive--I've designed microprocessor-based systems and written BIOS routines, etc. I know that there can be significant, important differences in motherboards, even if they are the exact same models but different revisions--this is reality even in much simpler systems like I worked on). Also, What if you want to make several "Images" of a drive to ease installation of W2K Pro, but can't count on all the PC's to be IDENTICAL?

    Obviously, for mission-critical stuff, you would have a backup server in the event of hardware failure, but you still need to restore the primary machine. Instead of puking out a STOP 0x7b when it encounters a certain driver/hardware mismatch (as has often happened since NT 3.51) why can't Win2k catch the exception and continue with the "generic" drivers, and allow the user to correct the problem without an invasive repair/re-install process? THERE IS NO GOOD REASON why it can't. Microsoft already allows you to boot in "VGA Mode" if you change video cards. This could be extended to all subsystems.

    Yes, there ARE countless different motherboards. However, all decent ones have the same entry points into the black box. They all have PCI and AGP slots, they all support the same BIOS calls and so on. Why can't Win2K (even if only in "Safe Mode") deal with the common denominator in the event the "optimised" configuration no longer applies. I know it seems harsh to hold Win2K to those standards. However, if I'm a company paying tens of thousands a year in licensing fees, a "smarter boot sequence" to save many hours of IT work isn't just a "nice" thing. If the FREE competition appears to be superior in that respect it would be something I'd DEMAND in return for those thousands I gave to Microsoft--particularly then they won't even give me the tools (ie. source code) to make improvements myself (improvements I'd be willing to share).

    Yes, I do have a double standard w.r.t. Win2k vs. Linux. It's because they are two different situations. Linux isn't "perfect" or "optimised for everything". However, it is free (monetarily) so you get more than you pay for. It is also Free (open source) so I can contribute improvements. Until MS Windows is Free (open source if not monitarily) I will not be nearly as forgiving with it's shortcomings.
  • do you say "apt" or "ay pee tee"?
  • From what I have been able to understand, Unix/Linux can run for weeks without user intervention (please advise me if I have come to an incorrect conclusion)

    Waaaaaait a minute- Don't your NT servers run that long? At work, e have an NT4 SP6a file server and an NT4 SP6a web/mail server... The last time I even remember the file server being rebooted is because someone hit the power button on the UPS. The web/mail server easily stays up over a month at a time... I'm assuming it crashes because it doesn't have all of the latest patches and someone's been screwing around with it- I haven't bothered keeping up with the patches because it takes forever on a machine that slow, and we have a Win2k box that's replacing it. Other than that, the only reason to have to mess with the thing is to install all of the stupid service packs. *sigh* Someday they'll make that easier.

  • You would be amazed at just how much technical detail is available on the various NASA web pages. It takes some digging, but the nasa.gov site is not short on geek content... at least not the last time I surfed through it.
  • As instructed in the slim Win2K manual, I removed drivers for hardware specific to my motherboard (sound, AGP, etc) but missed the IDE controller stuff. I even booted off of CD into an emergency command-prompt mode and tried picking around in there. Still BSODed. In desperation I did the repair/re-install.

    Also, I never said I was surprised at it overwriting all my updates. I fully expected it. My beef is that I was reduced to doing the restore for new hardware in the first place. I expected more from a highly touted, expensive operating system (OK, not as expensive as some commercial UNIX solutions, but pricy for me nonetheless). At least it could have let me in in "safe mode" (it BSODed even then) using generic drivers (if Linux can have them why not Windows?). I was further aggrivated by the need to reboot after EACH HOTFIX. I expect the odd one if they are kernel related, but to patch a security hole in the browser?

    As for the twenty reboods you are almost right--it was SP1, upgrade to strong encryption, IE 5.0 to 5.5 and 14 hotfixes.
  • Yes and no. It's a very small percentage of the user experience, but only if the user doesn't give up the installation half way. Since it's the first thing a new user may see, it should make a good impression.
  • The default install of Gnome Chess on my laptop running Linux Mandrake 7.2 works fine playing against the computer, even from KDE. :)

  • A few "relative" things to point out:

    Weight is a relative measurement. In orbit, the satellite *weighs* as much as 650L of water in the same orbit -- almost nothing. Both would have the same *mass* of 650 kilos on Earth and in orbit.

    Relative to other objects in space, it isn't very big, either. Not that I would disagree that the thing is tiny on a human scale...

    (end comment) */ }

  • I find it very interesting that contact to both MIR and the HAM satellite were lost about the same time...I haven't had the time to go and check the exact times, but it would be very interesting!

  • The thing a lot of people forget or don't know is that aerospace computers have to be radiation hardened. So the latest processors just plain aren't feasible in a hostile space environment.

    Isn't the StrongARM computer an experiment, in that it's not a traditional radiation hardened processor, but rather an experiment in shielding a regular chip enough to put it up in that kind of environment??
  • I've been a RedHatter for years now, but I recently decided to give Mandrake 7.2 a chance on a dual celeron machine I have. The installation went very well, but the main thing I was impressed with was the inclusion of a journaling filesystem. That's right, ReiserFS is included with Mandrake 7.2. You can create and format a partition with journaling goodness right out of the box. I loved this. I ended up needing it too, cause I had to hard reboot my box about 25 times due to a bad motherboard. Anyhow, I never lost any data, and I didn't have to wait an eternity for FSCK to do the hokey pokey after all those reboots. I'm hooked on journaling...

    Penguins keep very good journals. The Linux Pimp [thelinuxpimp.com]

  • Correction: many Linux users do not know C.
  • Trueness. The NASA press releases are usually headed up by some fluff that former sports reporters can comprehend, with a little more depth behind that for the average "hard news" reporter... they know the true techie reporters are going to raid their web sites and get the real dirt.

    Now, not all of NASA operates that way... JPL can put out some potent stuff....

  • Yeah, I had the same problem with my computer (Mandrake 7.0 + NVidia GeForce II MX). I just had to download the drivers off NVidia's website; after that X started up just fine.

    Maybe this is drifting off topic a little, but I found these two links extremely helpful when trying to solve the problem you mentioned.

    http://www.thedukeofurl.org/reviews/misc/3dlinux/4 .shtml [thedukeofurl.org]

    http://www.evil3d.net/articles/linux_nv4/index.sht ml [evil3d.net]

  • I would like to apologize for any misunderstanding. The NT4 servers do not really "need" a daily re-boot, but I, as manager, "feel the need" to re-boot regularly (my perception). A bit of paranoia on my part. All 6 servers have the latest service packs and patches installed and nobody has been "screwing around with it", they wouldn't dare! None of the staff in the organization would be so presumptive as to usurp my authority concerning the equipment in the server room. Perhaps I'm a "tin-pot dictator", but I prefer the ability to control my little dictatorship. Would Linux allow me the same "queenship" that I experience now? It certainly gives me something to think about. Thanks for your input.
  • Thanks for your comments. I wish to explain that company policy prohibits any staff person from installing any non-authorized software on company hardware (can lead to dismissal); staff uses only applications which apply directly to their tasks. Also, staff are not permitted to take work home with them or work from home, any removable disks (Floppy or ZIP) brought into the office are scanned prior to use in any company hardware. The laptops are "signed out" and "signed in" and checked prior to and immediately after being used outside of the company. And I have inventoried and documented all software, and have available all proper license agreements. Perhaps using a Linux for servers while retaining the Windows clients will resolve some of the cost issues, and allow the control required.
  • Thank you for your suggestions. Using Linux at the server level is certainly a possible solution, and will definitely reduce licensing costs, since a large chunk of the fees are at the server level. Of course, it would mean a great deal of re-training for me, since I am fully responsible for the servers, and have been using Microsoft products for the last 18 years. Of course, that does not answer my initial question of the "nurturing" instinct, and would using Linux allow me to have the same experience as with Windows?
  • These guys make me feel like a piker.

    A poor migrant to California?

  • They don't have to think if they don't wan't to.
    Both Red Hat [redhat.com] and Mandrake provide pointy-clicky-fancy updaters [redhat.com] for fetching and installing latest updates. Perfect for those who don't want to think, they just have to remember to run it once in a while.
  • Imagine yourself trying to fix something that isn't next you, not even in the same state, country or world.

    Like when Mom wants me to fix her Win95 box over the telephone? Yeah, that only happens about once a week.

    (And I'll bet the satellite's easier to explain things to than my Mom.)

  • Why does *everyone* refer to ham radio as HAM radio? It is *not* an acronym! Okay, I feel better now that I've said it. Please, people, you look stupid when you type it like that :P~
  • Once Linux is installed and configured, it tends to be at least as easy to use as anything else out there...

    Yeah, until you have to install a program. I think a lot of linux users have a huge delusion about what non-geeks call "easy to use". Quite a few programs come as source, and don't forget that to people who aren't programmers, compiling the source is a very tough and confusing thing to do. And RPMs? A bunch of arcane names and errors with dependencies is certainly not "user-friendly" or "easy". Not to a whole lot of people at least.


    Terradot [terradot.org]

  • When will people get it through their thick heads that there is much more to "usability" and "user friendliness" than a slick installation? It's great if a user can install the system easily, to be sure. But once that slick installation is done with, you've got a user left staring at an XDM login screen or a console login, thinking, "Okay, what next? How do I get into linux? What do I do?"

    System installation is simply a means to an end (the means - installing an OS. the end - an installed OS). Why do we need fancy X-based gui installers that let you play tetris while the packages are installing? The goal of an installation tool is to get the packages on the system, and get the system setup in more-or-less working order. Too much effort has been wasted by the likes of Redhat, Mandrake, Corel, Caldera, and even SuSE (though YaST1 is still an excellent installer and system management tool) developing ever slicker installation routines, while that effort could've been put to use somewhere important, like writing better documentation, or increasing usability of system management tools (linuxconf is a joke), or other more-worthwhile endeavors.

    How often does a typical Linux user install any Linux distribution? Aside from the newbie who probably should reinstall every other week or so (knowing you'll be reinstalling eventually is a good way to clear your conscience about "breaking" the system while learning), the loonies that need the latest and greatest Redhat, and reviewers who focus all too much on installation, for most of us installation is a one-shot deal. We install the system, tweak it, and then let it run for who knows how long.

    It simply boggles the mind, seeing developers spend so much effort on something that is such a small percentage of the overall user experience, and then seeing users encourage such behavior. Installation needs to be "Good Enough", meaning it's fairly easy to comprehend (a good manual and help system goes a long way, here) and doesn't screw up your system. It doesn't need a gui, and it doesn't need to play games.

  • Ah cool. Time to find out if I can upgrade a 7.2 box to Cooker using 2.4.0.whatever
  • periodically, I install mandrake, and it's a dream, it sets up all my hardware perfectly, Mandrake 7.2 got our i810's @ school hardware accelerated beautifully, and it's nice & pretty & polished. And I'll turn to spike (my best friend, co-sys-admin, and a BSD guy) and go "Spike, why don't we use mandrake?", and he'll say "apt", and then I say "right", and then he'll say "BSD style init.d" and I'll say right, and then he says "normal, non propietary, non-linuxconf boot & config scripts", and then I'll smash the mandrake computer with a boxed copy of debain 2.1
  • I am using mandrake 7.1 right now. I've downloaded 7.2 but couldn't get X to work with it on a fujitsu laptop with a trident 9388 graphics card. DrakX deteceted it, but when testing, the screen first appeared ok (that picture of a penguin with a rainbow gradient as the background), but when the "is this ok?" message dialog appeared, the screen got corrupted and X crashed. I mean, the entire system crashed, as it did not respond to keyboard commands (ctrl+alt+bksp, ctrl+alt+functionm key to switch to the console), and I couldn't telnet to it from another computer, which is how I assume the entire thing crashed.

    Which is a shame. I am a true believer that linux could succeed in the desktop, if some things were done better. Mandrake is a step in the right direction, but is still too crammed with stuff won't be using for now, let alone a newbie with little experience, but willing to learn using linux.

    Flame me if you want to, but I advocate a distro with about the same stuff that comes with Windows. Keep the installed stuff to a minimum, and when the user needs program X or service Y, he/she could install it from the distro CD, in constrast to the current situation where all (or almost) the stuff is installed by default. While this is good in the way that you have lots of programs, documentation, themes, available right after install, it intimidates users. hell! I am not an expert, but am quite familiar with Linux, and the amount of software a normal distribution installs even intimidates me!

    The ideal situation would be: a distribution with the kernel, support libraries, some shell utils, X, kde/gnome/another window manager, some X utils like a calculator, mp3 player, gimp, net utils and a office application. You need the C compiler? grab the CD and install it in some easy to use package manager. You need Apache? You need MySQL? You need Z? Go to the relevant part in the installer, search for webservers, db servers, or whatever and install it. Let the system grow with the demand, don't dump it all to the users at one point in time when it will hardly be manageable (by them, of course).

    Anyway, just my 0.02 Euro (4$ PTE).

    pedro cardoso

  • In the article, it says that Mandrake doesn't include Apache .

    It is true that Mandrake 7.2 Desktop Edition that you see on Walmart, Staples, etc doesn't include Apache and other server stuff (but they include lots of games), since they are meant for pure desktop. However, both the Download and Professional edition does include complete server stuff such as Apache, Webmin, ProFTPd, etc.

    They include an optimized version of Apache by SGI - Advanced Extranet Server, which is said to be 900% faster than the regular Apache - according to SpecWeb96. Click here to see the screenshot of its webserver: http://www.cyest.org/mandrake [cyest.org].

    By the way, I'm not Mandrake's employee. I'm just a Gnome programmer and Mandrake's fan.
  • The buffer overflow of the week shows up and you have boxes with a sign saying "0wn m3". What about kernel updates? They better make something that unpacks the source, reads their old config, rebuilds the new one and reboots. Updating windows just requires a few clicks.
  • by PurpleBob ( 63566 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @06:09PM (#539226)
    The halfway house is Debian Unstable. Debian has a different scale of stability - the "stable" release is REALLY stable but rather old, and the "unstable" release has very current packages, yet is still stable enough to use.

    If you're worried about the distribution breaking, you don't have to always upgrade everything at once (though many Debian users will attest that upgrading everything at once is fun). Start from the current unstable, then use apt-get like you'd use rpmfind, installing the new version of a package when you find that the old version doesn't cut it. This way you don't run into things like constant XFree86 upgrades.

    Obfuscated e-mail addresses won't stop sadistic 12-year-old ACs.

  • I noticed your sig, email address as relating to some sort of Linux Pimp. If you haven't noticed already, I am a female linux. the name is vaginux, in fact, vah-gyn-ucks, I don't know how much more 'female' you'd want to get than that!.

    also, I am a whore and would like to meet a pimp with some class! please email me thx.

  • I'm going to take a guess and say SuSE.
    Obfuscated e-mail addresses won't stop sadistic 12-year-old ACs.
  • I haven't heard of anybody being foolish enough to swap out the motherboard on a working Win32 system in a long time. I do it occasionally on Windows 95 systems in the lab at work, but Windows 95 is largely just a flossy GUI layer on top of DOS. NT/W2K is much more tightly integrated with the hardware.

    Criticizing an OS for not surviving a motherboard swap is certainly tangental to it's merits as a usable system.

  • If you're going with Slackware, save a few dollars and buy a $2 cheapbytes disk. Use the extra money to buy more O'Reilly books.

    Or download a Slack .iso and burn your own if you've got the bandwidth. (I do at work, anyway)
  • That's my take on it. There is always a chance you'll get a junk in a regularly published book as well. I am moonlighting as a proposal and book reviewer for one of the publishing companies. You can't imagine what kind of proposals and even drafts I have to go through. It's mostly recycled information you can get for free on a web + some shameless propaganda. Just the way to get a few books for them (and for me). At this point I am a bit of inclined to think that the authors making their books for free at least feel they have something they would like to share. Period.
  • Who gives a rats ass. I've been kicked off now for the third time because of trading metallica files. I've promptly deleted all of them and now change the station every time Metallica comes on. Besides now with the nifty program audioGnome, I can log in to as many networks as I want and Metallica can't do a damn thing about it. The link for audioGnome can be found here: http://opennap.sourceforge.net/#clients
  • OK, I'll kick this dead horse one more time. I 'dug up' the floppy and made a repair disk and put it away for safe keeping. It was not close at hand because I wasn't planning on using it the next day. It was an upgrade of a home PC I was planning to make after new years, until I came across a really good Boxing Day special that evening. I still think going into a closet in another room to get the W2K CD and emergency disk classifies as "digging up"--especially if you see how my closet is arranged.

    As for the BSOD--it wasn't before getting to safe mode. I selected Safe Mode--THEN--seconds after going to graphics mode--BSOD (safe mode worked before the upgrade too). I had to boot from CD into the Recovery Console before I could do anything at all. Honestly, I'm not full of crap--I'm just not a Microsoft guru. I'm more at home in the hardware end of things and did the bulk of my school and work on UNIX-style systems. For the record I curse my Linux box (where I passed the old W2K motherboard to--was loathe to disassemble a newly upgraded runnung Linux box to boot my W2K again). Except with Mandarke 7.2, I always had a bitch of a time getting my 3DFX Banchee going. With Linux though I get over it faster because it's free--I just sigh and say "what can you expect for free" and dig in.

    If you are indeed a MS evangelist, please don't be offended. I have to say that once all the crap and rebooting is done, everything works great, and MS has done volumes to increase reliability and ease of use in comparison to previous versions. I'm just very critical about products I've spend a lot of money on.
  • The buffer overflow of the week shows up and you have boxes with a sign saying "0wn m3".

    This is largely misleading. Most issues discovered are local exploits. These, while concerning, aren't QUITE comparable to operating systems that don't even restrict local access. (This is a discussion of consumer desktop apps, so I consider comparisons of Win2K or NT moot for the purposes of this discussion).

    Also, the majority of remote exploits are in third-party packages. The typical linux distribution contains increadible amounts of software NOT included with Windows. As well, the majority of these exploits are fixed VERY quickly and are only typically exploited on administratively neglected machines in spite of CERT advisories and other notices.

    You also fail to recognize the inherrent vulnerabilities in Outlook, IE, and other MAJOR windows components that have actually been at the root of MAJOR disruptions in service.

    Updating windows just requires a few clicks.

    Hmmm...you must not work with Windows too much in a service capacity. When one of the first solutions (from the manufacturer even) suggested for simple registry/library conflict problems is a complete format and reinstall of the operating system, your few clicks suggestion is humorous at best.

    Please, continue to enjoy Windows and all it's shortcomings. I'll stick with a system where I can at least fix things myself when they're broken.

  • My first distro was Slack back in '96. Nearly everything had to be configured by hand. I had to find some obscure shit (wasn't in the manual, of course) for the monitor I had at the time. XFree configuration? vi, of course. :-) Ditto for everything else. When I got a DeskJet 672C, I ended up having to write my own filter to get the printer to work.

    Nowadays? I use Mandrake. Unless I have problems (I've sworn that I'd dump Kudzu the first time I had problems; I still haven't removed it yet :-) If I do any re-configuration of my hardware setup, I don't have the patience to dick around for a day figuring out what's wrong. If someone else is willing to write a tool that does it automagically, I'm grateful they did. Right now, I'm unemployed, but at the time I switched to Mandrake, I was trying to hold down a management position. I didn't have time to dick around with hand-configuring anymore (and at the time I was switching stuff around quite frequently :-) and Mandrake more or less held in there for me. Better, in fact, than Windows did.

    I say this out of the experience of installing both Win98 and Mandrake on the same box, the same time. It took me LESS time to get Mandrake up and running 100%.
  • apt-get, the Red-Hat Network, Mandrake...all have auto update facilities for those interested.

    I would hope that there is at least a bit of `thinking person' in every user. Since it's 3 am for you, we can cut you some slack on that, but the service is there and actually much more advanced.

    With MS auto-update, you get what they give you no matter what it'll do to your apps. With Debian, it goes through, checks dependencies and knows what will be broken by changes, etc. You don't see MS Update fixing your DLL problems automagically...

  • I have to disagree. I expect motherboard swaps to cause SOME turmoil. I DON'T expect them to completely crash and burn. Win NT/2K is the ONLY OS I've seen that couldn't at least boot into a single-user or safe mode and instead crashes completely.

    As for being foolish--yes swapping motherboards would be if it was in a business environment. When it is your home PC I call it puttering around. I've puttered around like this with various versions of DOS, Win 3.1/95/98, Slakware, Red Hat, Mandrake, SCO... NOT ONE OF THESE had such a hard time with the brain transplant.

    As for the merit of one OS installation to handle motherboard changes being "tangential to its merits as a usable system" consider a real situation I encountered: Some years ago at a student job, we had to take many PCs and upgrade from DOS/win3.1 to Windows 95 (back when 95 was still young and IE was just moved from the Plus Pack to be included with the OS). We did an install, set up all the standard apps and so on--on a single PC. We then made an image of that installation and duplicated it dozens of times, saving a huge amount of work (while honouring licensing terms of course :-). Not all of the PCs had identical motherboards. Some were brand new Pentium 90s, others were older 486 DX266s. They all had ATI graphics cards and 3COM NICs, but some were ISA and others were PCI, etc.

    Of course very few of them ran perfectly right after the copy. However, the image restore was lightning fast compared even to an automated installation process, and more than made up for having to change device drivers (with the newer PCs it was grest because you just remove the bad drivers, reboot and PNP did unexpectedly well at picking up the correct hardware)--installing a few drivers from the setup CD was much easier than a full installation.

    With Win2k, every time there was a different motherboard this method would result in the BSOD situation (some machines with IDENTICAL model numbers came factory assembled with different motherboard revisions or IDE controllers, etc). Given this useful method of deployment and my propensity to "foolishly" swap motherboards annually on my home machines, I indeed DO consider the ability to handle hardware changes an important merit.

    Of course, I'm not a professional IT guy. I do estimates and budgets. Sometimes I program. Sometimes I build digital circuits. I haven't been an IT guy since my student days. Perhaps Microsoft has improved deployment of Windows via networking in the past 5 years (of course if our servers aren't windows you'd still be SOL I bet). I don't deal with the IT guys on a day to day basis and so haven't had the opportunity to see if it works as well as the drive image thing does...
  • "The installation was soooooo easy. ... Ease-of-use is a feature often overlooked in the entire Linux vs MS debate."

    Installation is not ease-of-use, it's ease-of-installation. To compare ease-of-use you have to compare use after installation. It has been pointed out before that including installation when comparing Linux vs MS is a faulty argument unless you're comparing installation of both.

    It's also a composition error [nizkor.org] to project the behavior of the installation program on to the behavior of the program being installed; just because InstallShield does a pretty installation of a bad DOS program won't change how the DOS program behaves.

  • What is pronounced as "ham" is written as "radio amateur".
  • Nigger does NOT mean 'ignorant person', it (literally) means 'black'. It comes directly from the Latin word 'niger', which also means 'black'. How it became an offensive word, I really don't know, because, in reality, saying 'Nigger' is really no different that saying 'Black'.
  • In fact, I can't think of a single OS which would catch something as drastic as a motherboard change without at least a partial reinstall (like Win2K allows you to do. Don't know if you have that option in Linux). Try BeOS [be.com]. You can change pretty much any hardware to another supported piece of hardware without having to mess with the OS. Everything just works.
  • Heh. I never said windoze was actually worked :)
  • That'd be nice... Unfortunately, I have no easy way to use ISO images. *shrug* Mebbe I'll try again when/if the final release of 2.4 comes out. Hopefully, it'll like my cable modem.
  • Where do you find out about this stuff?

  • Holy crap.

    What does your company actually produce?
  • by Cheshire Cat ( 105171 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @03:16PM (#539246) Homepage
    I just installed Mandrake on a Dell laptop the other day. The installation was soooooo easy. I'm really impressed with what Mandrake has done with Linux. Ease-of-use is a feature often overlooked in the entire Linux vs MS debate.

    If Linux is going to compete against MS on the desktop market, it needs to be easier to use. I don't want to have to hunt around and recompile the kernel just to get sound (this is my biggest complaint with Linux distros right now.) I don't want to poke around with mysterious .conf files just to get a periphial working.

    It seems that Mandrake has come a long way towards making Linux much more user friendly. While Linux distros still have a long ways to go, its good to see that they're on the right track!!

  • Disregarding the idjits above, this is pretty good purely for the mandrake review. I amUsing RH 7.0 now, but on trying to install an earlier verson of mandrake it was a breeze to install, but had a problem with my vid. card (NVidia GForce II MX)and couldn't start X.
    Did anyone see something in the article about compatible video cards? (What am i missing?)
    Mandrake, generally is pretty good though, esp. for those just beginning, except most stuff is written with RH in mind right now.
  • Slackware! It's up to date, while still being rock solid, and it's got your KDE (or your Gnome, if you're into that sort of thing.) And it's easy to install. www.slackware.com www.linuxmafia.com
  • I had problems with my NVidia Geforce II MX card as well, under Mandrake 7.1. I did a clean install of 7.2 on a new hard drive and made sure to choose XFree86 4, and then went to Nvidia's site and downloaded the rpm's for the kernel and GLX (I actually think I had to get the source rpm for the kernel, because I upgraded my kernel), and installed those, and now it works like a charm, and runs Quake 3 with no problems (which is of course the only reason to own a computer).
  • This particular one is not tiny. It weighs 650 kilograms.



  • It's really not that difficult. There are many MS "like" apps out there. Star Office comes to mind. also netscape mail works fine.
    most "office workers" only use an office suite, and eMail. And I can't see the winows to linux developer path as being much trouble.I did it pretty easy.
    sure theres a learning curve, but is pretty small. this assumes your using KDE or GNOME.
    I would say the 3.1 to 95 transition would be more difficult.
  • by thogard ( 43403 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @06:26PM (#539252) Homepage
    Someone was tring to find their way around a pc that I set up with mandrake 7.1. They guy was a windows user and he had the question "how do I use this without the mouse?" Damn good question. Too bad the answer seems to be "no way in hell!"

    When is kde/gnome going to fix this major little problem.
  • The repair disk was made the day before I upgraded.

    Maybe I would have disabled custom hardware in safe mode--if I could have gotten to safe mode. Safe mode BSODed on me too.

    Microsoft Apologists, eh? ;-)
  • that's pretty cool. two people discussed issues about flavors 'o' linux without screaming "you suck" at each other.

    linux really is going pro.

  • I have a love/hate relationship with Mandrake 7.2.

    Feathers in their cap:
    -easy install
    -flawlessly imports windows fonts
    -good choice of applications in distribution
    -very easy to use/be productive in

    -Half of their GUI apps (all titled Drak something) are crap and don't work, or they break something on your system. (Drakprofile and DrakMenuEdit come to mind, and others).
    -they clearly favour KDE.
    -more unstable then debian. This is probably due to the random breaking of config files by the drak utilities.

  • The Assayer is a web site for user-contributed book reviews, with a focus on free books.
    Put a ring around the bo...

    Cal it bo-ring. Like this site.
  • Oh that brings back memories!

    Picture this: you've sold thousands of remote units distributed all over the country that are tied into a communication network (er. TCP/IP/PPP over an X.25 SVC at a relatively low bit rate). Everything works until you start to download large amounts of data (i.e. a new software load). How do you fix it?

    Answer: identify the combination of client and server TCP bugs that conspire to break long sessions; download a small code snippet that patches away enough of the bugs in place, so you can download a completely fixed app and new TCP/IP stack.

    Ok, so it isn't thousands of miles UP, but it's thousands of times dozens of miles SIDEWAYS.

  • What if you want to make several "Images" of a drive to ease installation of W2K Pro, but can't count on all the PC's to be IDENTICAL?

    How is this any easier in Linux? We made a common boot image for Linux to install on some of the school's lab PCs, not realizing that several had NVidia TNT2 cards and some had TNT cards. The whole thing came crashing down... way before we even got to X.

    In fact, I can't think of a single OS which would catch something as drastic as a motherboard change without at least a partial reinstall (like Win2K allows you to do. Don't know if you have that option in Linux).

  • The Mandrake review states that Mandrake 7.2 does not include Apache. I've done several installs of 7.2 and I can verify that it DOES install Apache. If they chose the workstation install, it may have not installed it by default. I always choose development because that installs nearly everything.
  • I've installed Mandrake 7.2 from both the 4-CD "commercial boxed set" with Star Office and several other non-free apps, and the 2-CD "GPL" version from Cheapbytes (same as the download.)

    There are significant differences between the two editions! The 2-CD GPL version gives you more choices during the install, and seems to install more command-line tools. It seems targeted a little more at someone who has used Linux before. The 4-CD Commercial version has an even more simplified install, and seems targeted at someone coming from Windows. This is frustrating when there are certain things that the simplified install just does wrong - like networking setup, or not installing a command line FTP client!

    Also, even when you tell it to install "everything", it doesn't. That's a pain - I have a fast machine and a 40GB drive, and having to go through the CD's after a fresh install adding more RPM's that the installer skipped is just a nuisance.

    Still, it's my favorite, perhaps because I have learned my way around it by now. I've used each Mandrake since 6.0, and now I know how to fix things to work the way I like them.

    Torrey Hoffman (Azog)
  • If you're using sawfish as your window manager, you can bind any key combination to any action on a window/screen/desktop. I don't know about other WMs or DMs but I'd assume they have at least some basic keybinding control.

  • Interesting. I am pretty sure that I did a standard LM 7.2 install also, but playing against the computer generates an error message. Just one of life's unexplainable mysteries, I guess.

  • that to people who aren't programmers, compiling the source is a very tough and confusing thing to do.

    Only for packages that haven't been properly supported in the configure script. For most packages, ./configure; make; su -c make install works just fine.

    And RPMs? A bunch of arcane names and errors with dependencies is certainly not "user-friendly" or "easy".

    Apt-get handles dependencies automatically, and IIRC, recent apt-get can act as an RPM wrapper.

    Tetris on drugs, NES music, and GNOME vs. KDE Bingo [pineight.com].
  • That means that the SA can be underclocked for even more power savings. Or are there a few dynamic registers or resources in it that impose a minimum clock frequency?
  • by dspisak ( 257340 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @03:20PM (#539265)
    I've been a user of mandrake for the last year and a half and I have always liked what they did with their distro. However, it looks like they are doing some odd changes to their layout for the next release of the distro. Well, at least it looks that way based on what the new Mandrake Cooker stuff is looking like (yes, yes, Cooker is beta/alpha, don't base opinions on it, etc, you'll shoot your eye out, may cause birth defects) For example they changed the layout of the 2.2.18 source code to point to /usr/src/linux22 (I assume they have a similar /usr/src/linux24 for 2.4 kernels). However you can't get any headers for 2.2.18 from Mandrake for Cooker, but you can get headers for 2.4.0.whateverthehellthelatesttestkernelwas. It also looks like Mandrake is trying to integrate the Alsa drivers with their distro now with the inclusion of alsa-0.5.10 in their kernel source. It would be nice if I could get the headers from Cooker for 2.2.18, but I guess Mandrake is more focused on getting a 2.4.0 kernel as the default for the next release of the distro. Any people working on Cooker care to speak up? Thanks! Are you nonmundane? http://www.nonmundane.org/
  • Well, discontinuation of service sometimes happen when you distribute copyrighted material. Surely you can't blame napster for simply kicking you off because you're using their service to do something entirely illegal. I won't get into the morality of sharing copyrighted mp3s on napster, but don't blame them for enforcing laws.
  • Try Mandrake 7.2, with KDE 2.0...... I can do just about anything without a mouse. I can switch apps, or VDesktops, I can pull up the menu and select anything off of it, I can minimize a app, logout, login, reboot, etc.... Now I don't think that all the apps support use without a mouse, such as don't expect netscape to allow you ot surf without a mouse (but this is the same on MS anything).
  • I mean, the claim made by the reporter is a pretty fair generalization. It looks like the other two 'OS's mentioned in the rebuttal are so specialized they're more like proprietary firmware.
  • Sounds Much like a PRISON!! Not at all for me!!

    Why all the paranoia????????

    I worked for a company like this for a real short time once, is the turnover rate HIGH??
  • > An update on the health of troubled HAM satellite Oscar 40

    Typical rookie mistake; it's "ham" not "HAM" radio.

  • If Linux is going to compete against MS on the desktop market, it needs to be easier to install/configure.
    Something to note here is that the only reason MS Wintendos doesn't seem hard to install is that it's hard for most newbie users to get a machine without it pre-installed (even if they really don't want it included.

    Sometimes if you're not unlucky a windows installation will go quick and clean with no hitches. Woe to the newbie user, though, who has to do his/her own installation -- especially if something doesn't go as MS planned it. I have a friend who had a pretty good understanding of Window. Sometimes, however, even he would head home completely frustrated after spending a day (or two) trying to get windows to install properly on some box.. If it had been a user doing the installation, I think that Linux would have been an easy sell at that point.

    My own experience is that a Linux installation is far easier than a Windows installation. Of course I've actually installed both of them. That makes me unusual. Most newbie users have never actually seen an MS install disk out of it's envelope. For the sake of their sanity, they should keep it that way.

  • by jonathansamuel ( 59294 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @03:32PM (#539272) Homepage
    Mandrake 7.2 is my favorite distro as well, due to its ability to see my laptop's ATI card when S.u.S.E 6.4, Red Hat and other distros could not.

    But one feature is rather odd. By default, several of the games and other applications installed on the KDE and Gnome menus don't work. For instance, if you try to play against the machine using the GNU chess game then Mandrake 7.2 will tell you that there is no chess engine.

    What is the point of pre-installing games in KDE and Gnome if one cannot play them?
  • As far as replacing your entire windows network with Linux, I would have to say that unless your workers are willing to learn how to use alot of new applications, I can't recommend it.

    As for servers, you could save a pile of cash, and have a much more stable enviroment, by replacing your NT4 servers with Linux. Samba (windows compatible networking), internet connection sharing, Web (apache) and DB (mySQL, or Oracle) servers are all great pluses for Linux. The only sticking pointfor what you have described is reliance on exchange (but HP OpenMail is supposed to be a good drop in replacement for exchange).
  • Can anyone pi\oint me to a resouce on how to dual boot linux and win2k
    I hate being stuck in win but I need some of the programs availible for it.
  • by cluge ( 114877 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @03:33PM (#539275) Homepage
    Those guys dealing with the Satelite have my admiration. Think about this for a second, how many times YOU tried to update the software for a piece of equipment that is right next to you. How often was there a problem? 1 in 6 I bet. Imagine yourself trying to reach something that isn't next you, not even in the same state, country or world.

    It takes patience, and a lot of persistance. Congrats to the ground operators whose persistance paid off.

  • Notice how the Ham's information contains a lot more details that would be of interest to geeks? I think its cool they talk about 2.4 GHz links, the 2M repeater, and the code they are uploading to Silicon on Saphire microprocessors. That is the kind of info that makes these tiny satellites seem real. Of course, bouncing a 2M signal off of a hamsat from Belgium into Latvia makes it seem real and usable. Here's hoping they get the whole satellite working again.

    Do we ever see such detail in a NASA press releasae? Not really. Its for your own good, you understand.

    the AC
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday December 28, 2000 @05:00PM (#539278) Homepage Journal
    It turns out the satellite has no boot ROMs. There is a hardware mode to DMA a program from the radio receiver into RAM and then execute it, and that's how the thing gets bootstrapped. They feel this is more reliable than having one byte of airborne code that could fail. Bootstrapping was also complicated that not all of the receivers were working, and the receiver that was working has a directional antenna that is not pointed toward the earth during part of its orbit. So, you needed a ham in the right place with S-band equipment (which you don't just buy at Ham Radio Outlet).

    These guys make me feel like a piker.



  • It's nice to see a comprehensive critique of a Linux distribution--it doesn't happen often enough. The biggest complaint about Linux (or excuse used to defend Microsoft Windows) I hear from everyday users is that Linux has so many distributions, and they are all different and difficult to install and use.

    Mandrake has to be my favourite distribution to date (I've also tried Red Hat and Slakware). LM 7.2 was very easy to install and every version of LM has shown improvement. Although Slakware or Debian might be the best for stability, LM has been good in this area while focusing on ease-of-use.

    I just went through the exercise of upgrading hardware (MB/CPU only) of Win2K and LM 7.2 machines. Upon upgrading the LM 7.2 machine, it figured out the new hardware config. automatically. Win2k was a different matter. It didn't like the new on-board IDE controller and blue-screened upon bootup. I had to dig out the recovery disk, boot from the install CD and "Repair" my installation to bring it back. The "Repair" undid Service Pack 1 and all the hotfixes. TWENTY reboots later (that is not an exaggeration!) I was back in the saddle. Anyone else had the same experience upgrading a motherboard in a Win2K machine? So much for Windows ease-of-use over Linux...

    A couple of notes about the review: It claimed there was not an Apache package in the 7.2 distribution. This is not true. I obtained my LM 7.2 by downloading 2 ISO images--the setup/install CD and the "extensions" CD. Much of the good stuff (notably Apache and PostgreSQL) were on the "extensions" CD. During setup you are asked if you have the extensions CD and are prompted th enter it at the appropriate time. I strongly recommend using the Apache packages for 7.2 over 7.1 since they are updated (some bugs and file permission settings fixed) and tuned to conserve memory when using mod_perl. Also, if you choose "high" or "paranoid" security level take heed of the warning Mandrake gives you--these are best used for servers because many of the security measures break some of Mandrake's GUI-based eye-candy and cause slightly different behaviour from documentation.

    Can't wait for the review of Debian (that's the one I want to try next)...
  • Hi. Could someone answer a simple question for me please? I'd like to know if there is a distribution that is sort of a halfway house between Debian and the Commercial distributions. What I mean is that Debian is famed for being highly stable but quite curmudgeonly when it comes to integrating new features. The commercial distributions, such as Mandrake 7.2 as mentioned in the article, often have all the latest whizz-bang add ons, but possibly at the expense of stability, for the paranoid at least. What I would like to know is, is there a distribution that is a halfway house? A distro that is reasonably up to date, easy to install, etc etc, but without being too ill-considered? I would be very interested, because currently I use SuSE 6.2, and have been considering Debian but I have been put off by the difficulty of its install and the age of its packages, as well as the lack of KDE. Thank You Very Much in advance!
  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Thursday December 28, 2000 @05:08PM (#539281) Homepage Journal
    No, it's not so big. If they haven't banked the 1802 address space, it's only able to address 64K. The environment they are programming in sounds like something in between 1802 assembler and Forth. The second flight computer has a StrongARM and actually addresses a reasonable size memory, but that computer is itself experimental.



  • Correction: Mandrake 7.2 set us up the bomb.
  • I dunno... I'm the not-so-proud owner of Mandrake 7.2... Most of the packages are way out of date.... something on the order of 350 rpms that need to be updated out of the box... Lots of security holes... And they jumped the gun with KDE. *AND* the 'update' CD they mailed me doesn't seem to work. (As in, I stick it in the drive, run LiveUpdate, LiveUpdate looks at it, and pretends that it's not there.) Oh, and the USB support leaves something seriously to be desired.. Like actually having the pegasus driver acknowledge that the network adapter is there. *shrug* Mebbe I'm just bitter 'coz it doesn't like my system as well as everyone else's. :)
  • Storm Linux. www.stormix.com. All the nice features of Debian, with almost all of the sharp edges smoothed off. KDE is the default window manager, although you have the option of about 12 different ones. Highly recommended.
  • Oh, and so I'm stuck in Windoze 'til I can get the cable modem talking to linux... Which means somehow figuring out what's up with the pegasus driver... So mandrake *REALLY* sucks. Mebbe I'll just go back to caldera. Besides, there's no sickly purple in caldera.
  • Well, since you're on a consumer-level OS kick, how many consumer-level types even know what a CERT advisory is, let alone what do do with it? That's the 'beauty' of windows. Someone else thinks for you. Linux will never be a consumer level OS unless someone finally realizes that consumers don't want to think. They want to *DO*. If they have to think about it, they usually don't want it. With windoze, you click 'click here' and about 70% of the time, it works. if there's a security problem, don't worry. Microsloth will fix it... in a few months. In the mean time, look at the pretty pictures! I'm ranting.. it's 3am and I just got home from work. I love/hate linux, but face it... it's a thinking person's OS, and your average consumer would rather leave the thinking to someone else.
  • Thanks. I only have a couple of days to decide, but it looks as though I'll be choosing either Slackware or Storm Linux. I did some research on Slackware and found that it is very cutting edge indeed. But I really fancy a system modelled on Debian, so I am not sure. Is Stormix pretty much Debian Updated + KDE? If so, I may well get it.
  • Live and learn is right. I thought to disable the old sound, video, AGP and ACPI stuff but the IDE/ATA thing came at me from left field--never thought of that one! *sigh* it just seems so much easier to fix that kind of screw-up in Linux, Win9x and DOS
  • It's not a shielding experiment. The StrongARM processor architecture happens to be right for rad-hardness because it's fully static and it provides the most MIPS per watt of any modern CPU. The thing only uses 300 miliwatts at 230 MHz, vs. about 5 watts for any Pentium implementation. This is important both from a power budget,remember that power comes from solar panels and batteries for the dark periods, and we also have radio transmitters in that power budget, and a heat standpoint. A perfect black-body radiator in vaccumm can not efficiently radiate as much heat for its surface area as the typical CPU generates and you thus get into awkward active-cooling schemes.

    Shielding is often ineffective because if you hit shielding with a high-energy particle the result is a bunch of low-energy particles that are even worse as far as memory and logic cells are concerned. The preferred shielding material is tantalum which is expensive and very difficult to machine, and adds mass to be lofted to orbit. Static rather than dynamic logic is more rad-hard and uses less power, so the StrongARM is a very good choice for a satellite.



  • The Assayer helps defeat one of the arguments against open content -- that editors/publishers are required to protect readers at large from having to wade through junk. That puts a lot of power in the hands of few. This open reviewing system lets "the people" decide for themselves.

    With the big-publisher filter out of the way, we should hope to see more niche or small-market content (or content that might not be appreciated by big publishers) become available.

  • In the article they say
    We purchased the Linux-Mandrake 7.2 Complete version from a computer store.

    Does anyone know if that is a difference between the downloadable ISO images and the "Complete" version?

    Using the downloadable ISO and an expert install I installed Apache straight from the initial setup. I also noticed that the apache rpms are available under Mandrake/RPMS on the install CD (not the supplimental CD)

  • So long as the user actually has to install the operating system by him or herself, it will be a problem for the less tech-savvy.

    Linux is almost as easy to install as windows98, given someone with a reasonable level of technical knowledge, however many PC users are simply not that technical.

    Whilst they may benefit from Linux and all its plethora of free (as in beer and speech) software, they still cannot be expected to install it themselves.

    Its a chicken and egg situation, people use windows because its what came with their PC

    BillG has the resellers sewn up.

  • by dbirchall ( 191839 ) on Thursday December 28, 2000 @04:00PM (#539298) Journal
    If Linux is going to compete against MS on the desktop market, it needs to be easier to install/configure. Once Linux is installed and configured, it tends to be at least as easy to use as anything else out there, if not easier, simply because it doesn't go belly-up and demand to be reinstalled, used in safe mode, or whatever. A machine with Linux properly pre-loaded by the OEM is no doubt a joy to behold.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan