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The Mailbag

HELP WANTED : Article Ideas

Send tech-support questions, Tips, answers and article ideas to The Answer Gang <>. Other mail (including questions or comments about the Gazette itself) should go to <>. All material sent to either of these addresses will be considered for publication in the next issue. Please send answers to the original querent too, so that s/he can get the answer without waiting for the next issue.

Unanswered questions might appear here. Questions with answers--or answers only--appear in The Answer Gang, 2-Cent Tips, or here, depending on their content. There is no guarantee that questions will ever be answered, especially if not related to Linux.

Before asking a question, please check the Linux Gazette FAQ to see if it has been answered there.

Suggestion on Gazette contents.

Thu, 6 Sep 2001 11:04:37 +0530 (IST)
Atul Sowani (asowani from

I've been TLG reader since long time (almost from the first issue). Some time back, there used to be a column "Graphics Musings" (I hope I've got the name correctly), which used to have information about various graphics packages and utilities. Could you revive that column or a new one on similar lines? i.e., not essentially on graphics utilities alone, but also including other noteworthy utilities too?

Atul, the column was The Graphics Muse by Michael Hammel (, whom I'm cc'ing). His farewell article was Michael stopped writing his Linux Gazette column because (1) he wanted to consolidate his free graphics-related work on one web site (, and (2) he needed to spend more time on paid employment. Nevertheless, Michael remains a friend of Linux Gazette (part of the Clueful Horde) and occasionally answers questions from the Mailbag or helps the Gazette with graphics issues. He is also active in a Colorado Linux users group, if I remember correctly.

If somebody would like to start a new graphics-related series for LG, we'd be glad to publish it. But it can't be called The Graphics Muse since Michael is still using that title.

Since Linux Gazette's articles come from our readers, "we" cannot revive the column, but "you" as a reader can. Even if you're not a graphics expert, if you use Linux graphics programs regularly, you can write about your experiences (and frustrations) with them. It just has to be "new information": stuff that hasn't been published in LG before (or is so old it needs an update), and hasn't been overreported elsewhere.

As for other utilities, those are some of the things Thomas Adam writes about in his series The Weekend Mechanic. If you have any suggestions for topics you'd like to see him cover, e-mail him at Or send article requests to The Answer Gang ( and we'll put them in the Mailbag.

... and having been copied on this, Michael Hammel chimed in ...

Someone actually remembers that column? :-)

Actually, the ".org" address is for my personal stuff. The ".com" address holds the Graphics Muse content. Of course, last year I started dating my high school sweetheart, and now we're married. So I haven't actually had time to update that site in over a year. I hope to get back to it eventually, but its not on the near term schedule.

paid employment. Nevertheless, Michael remains a friend of Linux Gazette

Paid employment is taking precedence these days. Articles on graphics for Linux Journal and Linux Magazine are usually as close as I come to doing 'Muse style writings these days.

(part of the Clueful Horde) and occasionally answers questions from the Mailbag or helps the Gazette with graphics issues. He is also active in a Colorado Linux users group, if I remember correctly.

Sort of. I moved to Houston to be with my (now) wife and her daughter, though I still participate on the Colorado LUGs mailing list (BLUG and CLUE, specifically). I also am Senior Editor for and write the On The Desktop page.

If somebody would like to start a new graphics-related series for LG, we'd be glad to publish it. But it can't be called The Graphics Muse since Michael is still using that title.

That's correct. It's still copyrighted by me. I'd hoped to do a series of books under the umbrella "Graphics Muse", but that hasn't happened.

Interesting that someone would remember that column from so long ago. Especially now that graphics on Linux has become big business.

Michael J. Hammel
The Graphics Muse

Asound Ethernet card

Thu, 20 Sep 2001 20:31:24 -0700
Mike Orr (LG Editor)

Has anybody had any luck with the Asound ALM2 Ethernet card? I usually stick with 3com, epro or ne2000 cards to avoid driver problems, but this one said Linux driver on the box and it was $10, so I thought it was an ne2000 compatible. Turns out it has a RealTek 8139 chip, which corresponds to the experimental 8139too module (Linux 2.4.3). But the driver doesn't recognize the card. "init_module: no such device. Hint: insmod errors can be caused by incorrect module parameters, including invalid IO or IRQ parameters."

Thinking it was futile, I looked up the I/O address of the card in /proc/pci and tried "modprobe 8139too io=0xa000". This resulted in, "invalid parameter parm_io".

Linux in other languages

Mon, 3 Sep 2001 15:34:19 +0100
Ravishankar Rajendran (RRajendran from

I am interested in developing a linux version in Tamil( an Indian language). It would be very helpful, if you can provide an article providing an outline of the process of going about it.

... Mike likes the idea ...

This would make an excellent article, if there's anybody with experience to be able to write it. Even an article on how the Spanish or Chinese versions of Linux were built would be worthwhile.

... Mike also encouraged him to contact those most likely to have experience with language ports ...

Ravishanker, talk with the distributions that already offer multilingual versions of Linux. Linux--and the Unix programs and tools it is bundled with--were originally written in English, but several distributions have appeared in non-English-speaking countries with Linux speaking their language. TurboLinux 6.5 for the iSeries ( supports "English, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified and Traditional Chinese with the unified code base", and claims to have the leading support for wide character sets. Conectiva Linux ( is based in Brazil and offers Portuguese, Spanish and English versions. SuSE ( is based in Germany and offers versions in seven Western European languages and Czech. Mandrake, Red Hat and others also offer various levels of multilingual support.

Some of the issues you will face include:

Look through the HOWTOs at Look at the other-language HOWTOs like the Thai HOWTO, Chinese HOWTO, Danish HOWTO, Esperanto HOWTO, etc. The Font HOWTO may help with font issues. The Keyboard-and-Console HOWTO explains how to set up the text console for different languages. The Unicode HOWTO explains some other aspects of Unicode.

Contact Linux Focus ( and see if they have any advice. Linux Focus is a zine with a lot more non-English-speaking staff than LG.

... and Ravishankar replies ...

Thanks a lot for the help. I will keep you posted on the progress.

Content Suggestion

Fri, 28 Sep 2001 08:34:14 -0700
Boning, Mike (Mike.Boning from

After the recent suggestion from the Gartner Group to abandon Microsoft IIS, many companies are going to be looking at moving to Linux/Apache. It would be wise to publish good information regarding comparisons, compatibilities, and particularly migration paths.


Thinking of and Praying for you

Wed, 12 Sep 2001 22:54:08 +0200
Wiri (wbr from

Hello Linuxg@zette,

Please accept our expression of condolence for the terror that has struck your country. God bless you and America !

Wilf and friends.

Thank you very much, Wilf; I realize this isn't a Linux topic, but I didn't want your message of support to just stand unanswered. Just a bit of military historical perspective: at one point, Rome lost three legions and one of their governors in a single ambush in the Teutoburger Forest. Never before had they suffered a disaster of those proportions; nothing even close. The result? Roman armies marched; and afterwards, there was not enough left of the tribes that had attacked them to even bother Rome for *five centuries.*

"We have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve." -- Admiral Yamamoto, after Pearl Harbor

Thank you again. And thank you to all of our friends who are with us in compassion, caring, and spirit.

Ben Okopnik
US Army veteran

See also the News Bytes and TAG columns for some more words from the Linux Gazette staff on this topic. -- Heather

Ben's fame to claim???

Wed, 5 Sep 2001 22:31:20 +0100 (BST)
Thomas Adam (The Weekend Mechanic)

Dear Ben (and others),

I just thought that you and the rest of the team at the LG, would like to know that I was flicking through a friends copy of a British magazine called PCPlus. Although this is mostly orientated towards Windoze users, they do have a Linux section.

In this section the subject of shell scripting was being taught. I was not impressed with their content. The author of the article referred to shell scripting as a "dos batch file" equivalent, but gave no mention that BASH in fact has many boolean logic control-structures. But that is by-the-by.

The real reason why this e-mail is being sent to you, is that in one of the references, they pointed it to Ben Okopnik's article on The basics of shell languages (in issue 52). It is nice to know that the LG is used in such a context.

Keep up the good work guys,
Thomas Adam -- The Linux Weekend Mechanic

<smile> Always good to hear that somebody is getting good use out of this stuff. Thanks for the note, Thomas! -- Ben Okopnik

Non-ASCII characters and LG

Wed, 26 Sep 2001 11:28:04 -0700
Sándor Bárány (

As frustrating as I find "quoted printable" or HTML attachments, they are ways that foreign character sets can survive to get to me. I'm pleased to say that since he is active on Debian mailing lists, some of whose archives do not ruin his name, I was able to rescue it from the Dread Question Mark Disease. The rest of our answer is from Mike Orr. -- Heather

thank you very much for your answer about apropos. The solution you sent works properly. I had myself something similiar; however I could not imagine there is no built-in possibility for my problem which I have overseen.

An OS can never give you all the commands you want, especially since they conflict with the commands someone else wants. What Unix gives you is a comprehensive set of basic commands and the building blocks to build higher-level custom commands. This is why shell scripts and aliases are so highly valued by Unix enthusiasts, because they give you the ability to make custom commands for anything the developers might have forgotten.

I crosschecked it again and my mailer inserts the proper headers: Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-2

Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit

I find it really very pity you do attempt any use of i18n in your mailer. I am from Hungary, so I actually need the iso-8859-2 charcter code when I use my mother language for mails; however, my name is within the simple Western-Europe or ascii256 charset. If you US people insist on using us-ascii then ther are plenty of guys on the world who do not have any chance to see their name as in their personal documents. I have recently run some circles around locales and gnome (which I prefer to kde), and I have to tell you how much I was shocked by the fact how long way is to go till we reach to the point Windows95 already had. I have freefonts, ttfs, X fonts for several languages etc. but when I wanted to print out proper hungarian characters I had to redirect the StarOffice postscript output to file (was also forced to use elementary postscript fonts), and drive it through 'ogonkify'. A large number of Linux users can not live with us-ascii, so at a given point they are lost.

The problem of representing multiple languages is acute, and I strongly wish Linux was more advanced in that area. If editors and browsers fully supported Unicode seamlessly across the board, we would switch to it in an instant. However, 8-bit character sets continue to be better supported. The limitation is that only one 8-bit character set can be active at a time, meaning you can't properly display a document containing English and Russian and German unless one of the languages is ASCII-ified. This was a pain when I had Russian friends in Russia and Germany I sent e-mail to and typed up text documents for.

LG has just thrown its hands up in the air and taken the incorrect-but-easiest approach of using Latin-1 but pretending it's ASCII. Most of the non-English mail we get uses Latin-1 characters. I try to convert these to HTML entities when I see them, but I don't make a time-consuming effort of it. Compounding this is the fact that many of us use mutt as our mailreader, and mutt replaces non-ASCII characters with "?". Then if you save the message or forward it, mutt converts the placeholder "?" into real "?", and then the original character is completely lost. With Romance/Germanic languages we can usually guess what the original character was and substitute it back (because "ma?ana" is clearly "mañana", "K?ln" is "Köln", "Jos?" is "José", "Universit?t" must be "Universität" because "Universitöt", "Universitüt" and "Universitßt" don't exist, etc--unless you want to say "Universitöt" is slang for "dead university"!); however, with names from other languages we're at a total loss.

Perhaps someday we can come up with a more enlightened way to support multiple languages, but this is what we have now.

Last question: are you plan to publish on the Linux Gazette page this new Answer-Gang mail address? Or not publishing it is the proper way to avoid getting rid of off-topic questions :))

The linux-questions-only address is at the top of the Mailbag page and The Answer Gang index page, where we have always published it. The top of the 2-Cent Tips page still has the gazette address, but I've asked Heather to change it. In any case, I bounce everything to linux-questions-only that was misaddressed to gazette.

If you see anywhere else (besides in back issues) where the gazette address or the obsolete tag address is used, please let me know and we'll change it.

I thought about putting the address on the home page but decided against it, because people should at least have a look at what The Answer Gang is about before they find out there is a submission address.

The problem of off-topic questions was not caused by Gazette readers. It was caused by the fact that the tag address was published on many webpages with no reference to LG. So people would type their question into search engines, find the tag address, and send us questions, often without even realizing Linux Gazette existed. Our off-topic questions were easily 50% of the total. See the past several issues of The Back Page for the more amusing ones, and issues of The Answer Gang before that.

Since switching to the linux-questions-only address, our off-topic rate has dropped to near zero, and we are also seeing fewer Linux questions from people who don't even bother to read the FAQs and documentation first but just expect us to hold their hand. LG believes in helping those who help themselves.

-- Mike

Missed the toons

Fri, 14 Sep 2001 10:06:26 +0530
Sudhakar . A N ( from

I miss the toons in your lates issue.

We miss them too. Shane Collinge has to concentrate on paid employment for a while, so HelpDex is on hiatus. Eric Kasten has his hands full doing whatever he's doing, so Tuxedo Tails is also taking a break.

Jon "Sir Flakey" Harsem is still going strong, so we have a new installment of Qubisms this month for your cartoon fix. It was missing last month because I, um, forgot to include it. Most Qubism cartoons are non-Linux but I'm including some of the funnier ones anyway.

I originally told Eric Kasten we wanted only Linux cartoons, but he said Linux is too specific a topic to come up with that many cartoons about, so I've been publishing non-Linux Tuxedo Tails panels too.


email with multiple POP3 accounts

Thu, 30 Aug 2001 11:33:54 +0800
Artemista - (artemista from

Thanks to everyone who responded to my question. With everyone's advice, I was able to figure out a solution to the problem.

-- Artemista

Link fix needed:

Sat, 01 Sep 2001 21:56:10 -0600
Alvin Austin (alvin from

Hi Heather,

In the latest Linux Gazette online issue, the link to the "internet cafe" is set to that of "Password aging" instead of:

You will want to correct this.

Have a nice day,

Alvin Austin

Ooops! Sorry about that! As Mike noted elsewhere, my conversion script caught a bug last month, and I mostly managed to clean up after it, but obviously, I missed another one. -- Heather

LG .rss file and search engine

Sun Sep 30 23:57:05 PDT 2001
Iron (LG Editor)

LG has two new goodies this month. One is an .rss file at Those who run web sites with "live" links to various news sites and zines can feed this file to your link generator to create links to all the articles in the current issue (at the main LG site). This file is experimental right now because I need feedback from the linking sites on whether this format will work for them, or what you would prefer instead (hint, hint). If the feedback is positive, I will update this file each month.

Also, LG has a new search engine. The buggy WebGlimpse engine has been replaced with ht://Dig. The new URL is However, you can still use the old URL and it will take you to the new search page. If you are using the extra search link that some mirrors have (to search the mirror's copy of LG), it is unaffected.

This page edited and maintained by the Editors of Linux Gazette Copyright © 2001
Published in issue 71 of Linux Gazette October 2001
HTML script maintained by Heather Stern of Starshine Technical Services,
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