[TAG] Article Ideas
thomas_adam at bonbon.net
Mon Jun 7 13:54:09 MSD 2004
On Mon, 07 Jun 2004 14:11:56 +1000
Geoff Ericksson <gbe at acmc.uq.edu.au> wrote:
> Hi to all at the gazette,
Hello, Geoff -
> I've just read the June 2004 (#103) Mailbag column. You asked for
> ideas so I've written down some of the things that I have struggled
> with and thrown in some other ideas too. Hopefully some of the
> questions and the general areas that I have struggled with may give
> you ideas for articles. I'm _not_ specifically asking you to answer
> any or all of my problems. I'm just trying to provide you with _one_
> current reader's issues and give you an indication of my level of
> expertise since you are currently trying to figure out what the
> audience is/should be.
> 1) Using laptop at multiple locations.
> Different locations need a different setup. For example, I use yum or
> apt-get to keep my system up to date which needs to know what the
> proxy server is. Web browsers also need to know what the proxy is.
> Et cetera. I got sick of manually configuring all these things so I
> eventually wrote a script (available if you are interested) to take in
> an environment variable (set on the grub command line) and set up the
> configuration files appropriately for each location. Eventually I
> made the changes easier by setting up a local proxy server on my
> laptop and just change my proxy server's configuration. Which leads
> me to
There was a discussion about this either recently or it has since been
discussed in LG. I fail to remember which.
> 2) Set up a local proxy server.
> I chose squid because I could apt-get it. Did I make a good choice?
But of course!
> Would another do a better job? I've since noticed that debian has one
> called wwwoffle.
"better job" is a relative term. Better than what? What would you want
it to do, etc?
> My setup of squid basically involved googling problems until it
> worked. Then I stopped. I still don't really understand what I did.
> Have I left huge security holes open due to my ignorance?
Doubt it. Squid works better in the out-going sense.
> It would be nice to be able to go back though the mozilla history when
> I am offline and be able to see pages that I have looked at. Can
> squid do this?
Squid caches its files in a manner not known to Mozilla directly. Squid
works by comparison of hashed files rather than the difference in HTML
proper web-pages. The same is true of Mozilla's cache, although a quick
grep through it show the some files might be viewable.
> When I dial in to my ISP can squid automatically start going to my
> regular websites and pre-cache stuff?
That's not a feature of Squid, but rather your web browser.
> 3) ifplugd
> I wanted to be able to plug/unplug my ethernet cord like I used to be
> able to under W2K. Fortunately I found ifplugd which solved that
Yes, it is nice. I'll extract that as a 2-cent tip unless you want to
e-mail us with a more detailed one?
> 4) Using rpm properly
> RPM spec files are a complete mystery. If I write some code that I
> want to distribute is there an easy way to make an RPM? My current
> way is to use checkinstall.
Checkinstall is OK. We had a few articles a few years ago about making
> Also when I make an RPM what do I list as the dependencies? Obviously
> I don't need to go as far as listing a kernel but where do you stop?
It stops with just that -- the end of the dependencies. As a programmer
you'd know what it depends on -- usually any libraries the program needs
> 5) Installing source code
> When I first started with linux I merrily compiled and installed
> stuff. I quickly learnt that that led to a dependency hell that make
> RPM hell look tame.
I have no idea what you mean here -- can you elaborate?
> Thankfully checkinstall came to my rescue. A
> nice article would be about comparing the different source
> installation strategies available.
This was discussed oh-so-briefly on TAG earlier this week. I actually
prefer "stow" to "checkinstall".
> 6) Accessing hotmail
> I wanted to be able to access my hotmail account in my mail reader.
> hotwayd solves that problem. Is there another solution? Can hotwayd
> or any other similar program allow access to other web based mail
Yes, hotwayd does that. There is also "yahoopop" for yahoo mail.
> 7) Printing photographs
> My wife wants to print photos easily. I still haven't found an easy
> solution. Problems are things like how to put 4 photos onto an A4
> page easily. Any ideas? Do I need to write something?
There are *lots* of ways to do this. I would use a combination of
convert(1) and mogrify(1) from the "Imagemagick" package.
> 8) Get suspend working.
> This has been on my to do list for a long time know. I'm hoping that
> Fedora Core 2 will just automagically do it.
This is kernel dependant, and will need to ensure you have ACPI support
(this is a sore point since it is a PITA) and have the "acpid" package
installed. This'll allow you to do that.
If you mean software suspend to disk, again you'll need the swsusp
patch, available from sourceforge:
Of course, Fedora Core cannot really call their "kernel" a kernel. By
the time they've mangled it, it's an abomination.
> 9) Running windows software
> Software that I buy for my kids is Windows based. :( . Do people have
> success with wine? I can't get sound going for wine, any ideas where
> I should be looking? How do people use wine? (e.g. do they have a
> separate "windows window" with start button, etc, or do they just try
> and get windows apps running transparently? ) Potential article:
> wine for dummies.
Wine is still very much alpha for most things. I suppose an article
would be a good idea.
> 10) Mounting network drives
> At work I am not allowed to NFS mount network drives. My current
> solution is to use the samba client to talk to the solaris machine
> running the samba server. What a completely nuts world! Has anybody
> had success using an ssh mount?
sshfs is also good. NFS is one of those things that has always "just
worked" but can be a real PITA.
> 11) Backups
> What do people do for backups? Is there any software to do it nicely?
> Currently I have a really simple script backs up /home to a CD-RW but
> are there better solutions? Maybe even a GUI solution? I really must
> put /etc into that script :) . Also I'm now hitting the 700MB mark so
> I need to extend my solution to 2 CD's. Any ideas?
There are _many_ ways to do this -- "kbackup" <http://kbackup.sf.net> is
meant to be quite good. Remotely there is "rsync".
> 12) Treating CD-RW as a removable disk
> How do you do it under linux?
umount /cdrw && eject
> 13) Fax / Answering machine
> Can I use my linux box as a fax or an answering machine?
HylaFax will help you there.
> Other stuff:
> 1) Choice of distribution
> How did you choose your distribution? I'm sure that would be an
> interesting story. I chose Mandrake initially because it seemed
> friendly but it had problems with my hardware (Dell Inspiron 8000).
> Redhat 8 fixed those problems so I stayed with Redhat and then moved
> to Fedora. I tried to put debian on in between an upgrade and it was
> _so_ hard that I eventually gave up. I'm sure that with enough effort
> applied I would have eventually got there but my wife and kids only
> have so much patience.
That's a subjective question. My own answer is that every distribution
is more or less the same, but what defines it is the way it handles
packages. You say Debian was hard to setup, I wonder why? I use nothing
but Debian. It's excellent, and the range of software is immense.
Slackware is also good, but it does not use SysV init, so it might throw
you at first. ;)
> I'm sure that all these issues have solutions but it takes time to
> figure it all out. I didn't intend to write such a long list but the
> problems just kept gushing :) . If you want to pursue any topic with
> me feel free.
Thank you ever so much, Geoff. Much appreciated.
-- Thomas Adam
"Annie Hall leaves New York in the end. Press rewind, and Woody gets her
back again." -- "Look Inside America", Blur.
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