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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.

LWN links

Thu, 11 Oct 2001 12:00:51 -0700
Mike Orr (LG Editor)

Linux Weekly News needs fresh sponsorship soon. See our News Bytes for details (there's a mailing list).

Your Editor would be greatly saddened to see LWN disappear. -Mike

Many of the Gang use it; Jim and I would sorely miss it... We do have a 2c Tip this month pointing at LWN, too. - Heather

Linux support call handling

Wed, 03 Oct 2001 14:55:14 -0400
(darlenefield from


I have been searching through the Linux Gazette website for anyting on the industry average of call handling times for Linux support. So far I have not found anything.

I was wondering if you had done an article or come across this. I was wondering if there were any industry documents that measured the average time it would take a customer to call in for support till the time that their problem was resolved.

Any information that you may have would be very helpful.

Thanks, Darlene

I don't think we've ever covered that topic. -- Mike
If anyone has enough information that isn't under some sort of NDA, to write such an article, it'd be interesting to see. Unfortunately statistics about how long an Answer Gang member takes to answer a querent are a bit fuzzy; we don't get docked for answering late, nor promise we'll answer at all; some "answers" are really requests for more data and touched with tidbits in the hopes it will help somehow -- and we may or may not ever learn if our reader got the answer they needed. (Well, that last part's no different from phone support, anyway.) -- Heather

BTW.. I tried sending this message to (documented on your website) and my mail was returned.

That address was changed because of the large number of off-topic questions we received. The address was posted widely on web pages with no explanation that it was for Linux questions or that querents are supposed to do their own research first. The current address is linux-questions-only at Where did you see documented? We changed the home page and the current issue, although we haven't changed the back issues. -- Mike

...but our readers are helpful souls. Thanks, Darlene! ...

I found refrenced twice on the FAQ page under # 4 Guidelines for answering questions.

OK, thanks. We used to have a mailback running after we turned the tag address off. Then the mailback got into a mail loop with one address and we turned it off, but didn't think about updating the FAQ. -- Mike

DSL Drivers

Fri, 5 Oct 2001 17:37:48 -0400
Douglas M (douglas from

Hello eveyone at the gazette I've been all over the net trying to find out the answer about problem im having I have an Efficient Networks 4060 USB Modem . I want to run Mandrake 8.1 but dont know if there any drivers or if they even exist.maybe you guys can help me with any info

Lots of people have been caught with DSL USB modems without Linux drivers. So there may be a driver, but it's not too likely. Your best bet may be to return it for an external modem that connects to an Ethernet card. These are much more Linux-friendly.
TAG members, are there any USB and/or internal DSL modems that do have Linux drivers? -- Mike
Apparently not enough of TAG use USB for serial gadgetry, so perhaps you can help us out, dear readers! -- Heather

university engineering team

Thu, 11 Oct 2001 09:52:11 -0700
Yogesh Raut (yogesh.raut from
This request originally arrived as a letter to "our HR department." We advised them we aren't a company. They hope that our readership at large will have a good idea or two about something specific they can contribute to.
By the way, before you start groaning about Visual Basic not being Linux, check out GNOME Basic at ... -- Heather

Thank you sir, as per your directions we are sending you same letter addressed to linux users . so please publish it in your mailbag. Also if you are having mail ids of some more organisations having projects related to drivers, we request you to send them to us, so that we can cntact them also.

We don't have a list of projects related to drivers. But there are thousands of them.
Answer Gang, is there a list somewhere of Linux driver projects these people can contribute to, or nonexistent drivers that need to be written? -- Mike

To, Linux Users,

Subject: about getting sponsorship (technical guidance)

Respected sir,

We are students from 'College of Engineering, Pandharpur'(India),studing in class B.E.Computer Science & Engineering.As we are entering into last year of our curriculum, we are looking for Challenging and innovative projects.Our project group is consisting of enthusiastic and motivated students with good academic record,listed below

  1. Mr. Yogesh Raut
  2. Mr. Ajinkya Chavan
  3. Ms. Sujata Silam
  4. Ms. Varsha Sartape
  5. Mr. Sachin Joshi

Sir, all of us have participated in different Paper Presentation and

software contests. We have completed following projects-

  1. 'Design,Analysis,Simulation:Slider Crank Mechanism And Inversions'- got 'FIRST PRIZE' at 'TECHNOGLIMPSE 2001' a state level software project contest.Also presented at 'DIPEX 2001' a state level project exhibition. written in C++.
  2. 'OTHELLO'- a computer game presented at 'Insearch 2000', state level software contest. Written in C language,involves 'artificial intelligence'.
  3. A 'fighter game' which can be simultaneously played on two computers by two different users and uses it's own protocol for networking. Written in C++.
  4. A multimedia application created in Visual Basic.
  5. A bankig software project.
  6. Some system software projects- assemblers, editors, lexical analyzers & parsers. Some graphical s/w as computer games, small images processing s/w.

We have also participated in paper presentation Contests and presented following papers

  1. 'Web Technology'- presented at 'Technomillenium 2000'
  2. 'Data mining and Data-warehousing'- at 'Threshold 2001'
  3. 'Network Security' presented at National Level
  4. 'E-commerce' presented at Shree Vision 2001 a National level Paper Presentation contest.

As we the Computer Engineering students we are interested in system level projects like

  • Device Drivers
  • Operating system internals

As Linux is emerging as new leading Operating System of this era, we are mostly interested in 'Device Driver' projects in Linux (or Unix).We are looking for any such project which we are eager to do.

Sir, if you can sponsor us for any such project we will be grateful to you. If you are not having any project, you can just sponsor project decided by us. We don't expect any financial help from you, but just technical support. We assure you that if you give us a single chance, we shall work with our full strength and complete it within given period of time with quality assurance.

We are eagerly waiting for your positive response. If you are affirmative to our request, please tell us about further procedure to complete remaining formalities. We are ready to personally come to your Company for further procedure.

our E-mail address is

our postal address is:

Mr. Sachin Suresh Joshi,
College of Engineering
Gopalpur-Ranjani Road,
Dist- Solapur.
State- Maharashtra.
Pin - 413304

Your's faithfully,

sachin S. Joshi
[B.E. C.S.E. College of Engg. pandharpur]

Deleting items in KDE 2.1.1 "Run Command"

Thu, 27 Sep 2001 23:50:31 -0400
Andre Dubuc (aajdubuc from

The number of items listed in KDE's 2.1.1 "Run Command" is getting ridiculous.

I'd like to edit this list. I've tried "Clear" but it merely clears the item in the box, but retains the list. I've also tried editing "History= . . ." in /home/username/.kde(2)/share/config/kdesktoprc file. Unfortunately, the list remains intact whether I restart kde or not.

Will this list eventually seize control of my hd? :^gt;

TIA, Andre

GUI and CMOS clock (2 Questions)

Sun, 28 Oct 2001 16:43:11 -0000
James Rutter (james.rutter from

I am new to Linux and am desperate to solve 2 problems. I run a new Evesham PC with a 1.4GHz Athlon chip, NVIDIA GeForce 2MX graphics card with a Taxan crystal vision 680 TCO99-S monitor.

When I boot my SuSE 7.1 installation from the floppy, the boot process hangs at 'setting up CMOS clock'. I have to hit the restet button, boot Windows, shut down Windows and restart Linux. I other words, I cannot get Linux to boot sucessfully twice in a row. I have to boot WIndows in between.

My second problem is with XFree86 ver4.0.2. The windowing system seems to have a mind of its own. Usually when I arrive at the graphical login, the scree is offset about 2 inches to the right. If I go into Sax2 to configure using Xfine the screen display will 'snap' into place when I stick with the 600x800 setting. When I come out of Sax2 sometimes the setting will be saved. Sometimes the virtual desktop space is larger that the actual resolution setting. If I try to configure for 1024x768, this does not work at all. On the limited occasion I have got an 800x600 screen set up successfully, if I shut down and reboot, the same problem reappears even thought I have apparantly saved the settings.


James Rutter


Fri, 19 Oct 2001 22:40:26 +0200
Rams Grzegorz (grzegram from

I'm a teacher of the computer study and I take care of the school laboratory in the Special Secondery School. The real name of my school is - Szkoła Zawodowa Specjalna nr 4 w Nowym Sączu.

My pupils are different than the healthy children so I have to do everything what is the best for them. Because for some years I have been using Linux (Rh 5.0) in my private computer I thought about my pupils. So lately I have started to learn them the Linux system at school. Now we've got only Linux in our laboratory.

At the moment I'm looking for some posters or calendars or advertisements or others informations about Linux. I want put them on the walls in my classroom. I hope that my pupils'll be more interested in Linux this way. So if you can help me please write how can I get these things which I wrote before or how can I buy them. Thanks a lot for helping me.

Rams Grzegorz
33-300 Nowy Sacz
ul.Kunegundy 68
[Mike Martin] Off the top of my head Publicity departments of the following Linux cos

Red Hat
Caldera? (sorry - a bit of bias)
and Linux friendly cos

IBM (with their linux promo budget they must have posters to give away)
and of course it would be worth checkong on debian and
[Frank] Hi there!
I don't have any posters right now, but I've learned that most companies are very willing to help with material like that, especially if they feel they might gain future customers that way.
I had some very good experiences with SuSE, which sent me tons of materials when I explained that I was active in some user groups and was always out of folders. They still send me a professional version of every new distibution for free, even though I mostly use Mandrake now.
Given that you're in Europe, just like me, SuSE might be your best choice for this anyhow - although Red Hat, for instance, might like a chance to get a bigger market too G
Just check company's websites for a contact e-mail (I happen to know the SuSE-addy:
Hope this helps you!
We can send you the covers from several Linux Journal magazines over the past year. Would you like that?
You can preview the images at , and click on the links for issues 76-91, and tell us which covers you'd like. Also, is your mailing address correct?
We are also looking for other organizations who may have other posters.
There is also something called the Linux Image Montage Project. I don't have the URL offhand, but they are collecting linux-related images and putting them together into a huge penguin image. -- Mike
Penguin Computing has some very amusing posters.
And there's always some potential to find cool things at -- Heather

How to configure AutoFS to automount NFS exported volumes

Fri, 12 Oct 2001 14:04:37 -0600
Aaron Bloomfield (abloom from

I need to set up a RH Linux 7.1 system to automatically mount exported NFS filesystems on the fly. I realize the security implications inherint in such a request, but require the functionality despite the dangers right now. On my Unix boxes I could simply add a line in the auto_master file "/net -hosts -soft,noac" and set a couple of flags in the nfsconf file (AUTOFS=3D1, NFS_CLIENT=3D1, NFS_SERVER=3D1) and everything works fine. I've tried this on the Linux box without success. Is there something I'm missing?

Thanks in advance, Aaron

Net bios code

Fri, 28 Sep 2001 22:50:14 +0530
karunakar Reddy BV (bvkreddy from

Hai ,

Can you send the netbios code for interction b/n linux and windows

systems .Through this code I want windows system properties(like user name, IP,memory like) display on linux system.

waiting for reply.

Karunakar Reddy B.V

A little hard to read, but I think he's asking a different question than Samba answers. Does anyone know how to ask a linux server about the peers out there which are connected to its shares? If he knew an application that does this, then he could read its source...
Note well, that all MSwin style shares involving a Linux box are going to be over TCP/IP, not NETBIOS. Even Microsoft doesn't recommend NETBIOS anymore - it's a noisy protocol, so it scales horribly. -- Heather

does anyone know how one can set quotas in linux for a directory rather than home

Tue, 23 Oct 2001 13:06:36 +0630
gazette (,,,)

Hi! Does anyone know how we can set quota to some directory for eg /info/software to limit say 50mb.I went through the man pages but was unsuccessfull in setting the same.

Pls help

Thanks Franco.F

Quotas are usually by userid, aren't they? The only thing that I can think of is creating a filesystem image of ext2 type, and loopback mounting it at that directory. But using quotas effectively would make a great article... especially if you have some real world examples that get solved. Making enterprise Linux a little more fun? :D -- Heather


suggestion for "A need for Documentation" article

Mon, 15 Oct 2001 11:09:25 +0200
Eran Levy (eranle from

Dear LinuxGazette,

I have been reading your article "A need for Documentation". Very interesting article.

I have made a Linux documentation website project. Why I hear people say we need documentation, there no lots of good documents, etc.? Im trying to advertise my Linux documentation project for lots of time, but no one reply me. I think that I made a really good work in this documentation website. Im trying to tell websites like you, LinuxGazette, to get my documents and give them to the Linux community, but I get no reply from that sites. Maybe the need of documents isnt so urgent.

Please, check my website. I think there are good guides for variety of Linux subjects. I think they can help the Linux community in the search for good documentation in the net. I will really appreciate your interest in my project. Thank you very much.

-- Best Regards, Eran Levy.

"This is Linux country. If you listen carefully, you can hear Windows reboot..."


I think that you and Matthias [the article's author] are talking about two different things, although you both support the cause of documentation. You are trying to provide a documentation portal for various types of Linux questions. Matthias is trying to get program developers to document their own projects better. If they do that, it will mean more content to put on your site. -- Mike

Hi Mike, I really appreciate your reply for my E-mail. All the websites that I sent E-mail to them about my Linux project website didnt reply me. I hope that all the Linux sites will read the E-mails as you read. Keep up with your excellent work! I hope for you and for Linux Gazette the best.

Whiptail vs Dialog

Wed, 17 Oct 2001 00:44:48 -0500
Kent West (westk from

In Issue 69 of the LinuxGazette ( Heather Stern recommends using Dialog over Whiptail, implying that Whiptail is brain-damaged. Having just started to play with Whiptail (and having never done much scripting, and none with Dialog), I was just wondering if she might expound on this a bit more. I did a google search and a dogpile search for "whiptail versus dialog", and this article was about the only relevant hit I found, so as of now Heather's recommendation is all I have to go on.



Hi Kent!
There are at this point a large handful of variants which branched off from Dialog 0.60 or so. The one in the Debian version (0.9a) is actively maintained; it had at some time been in the hands of a different linux flavor, which I wouldn't know except it was mentioned in the examples. I consider whiptail wimpy because its features are not nearly as complete. With dialog, I can actually do some very cool things with the --and-widget feature, and the progress-bar gadget can be convinced to work. Essentially I see whiptail as having made a pot shot at being dialog-compatible, but working from an old revision, and at the time I wrote that article, I was fuming about it because it was being strange about screen sizing. my annoyance was made greater by the fact I couldn't get rid of the stupid package since the debian base expected it for something, even though I had dialog installed. I think that's fixed, these days. Anyway, there's a decent amount of history at: -- Heather

Linux in Africa

Mon, 22 Oct 2001 14:17:05 +0300 (EAT)
gatheru (gatheru from

I saw about the above article on linux gazette and I feel that it is worthy. Though I'am n