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By Jim Dennis, Ben Okopnik, Dan Wilder, Breen, Chris, and... (meet the Gang) ... the Editors of Linux Gazette... and You!
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Hello everyone and welcome once more to the world of The Answer Gang. This is a time of holiday in the United States as it celebrates its Independence Day holiady -- nowadays mostly an excuse to go picnicking, and enjoy a lot of professional fireworks.
Let me see, in 1996 it was theoretically possible to declare your indendence from Microsoft - but really, desktop Linux still had a long way to go. Had PGP even been invented yet? We had spreadsheets all over the place, some work on a nice little TeX based word processor -- interoperability still needed a lot of work. On the flip side, Linux was invisibly serving a lot of systems out there, as was FreeBSD, because sysadmins and engineers stuck with a problem to solve and folks breathing down their necks about it, could sneak in a small pentium and just apologize later, knowing the bosses would be just plain unlikely to unplug it after it had been running for a month, saving their bacon.
I'm sorry we're late with the current issue. Life's been a bit hectic (is this any surprise?) and a few changes are going on under the hood. Not only that but Murphy's Law seems to have it in for me...
I finally had to upgrade that 386 I've been so proud of for years - I tried to bribe it with a new power supply, and everything. Finally I brought it out of the server closet on a link in my open lab. Some stray keyboard call and boom, dead as a doornail. If the keyboard controller chip goes, there's just nothing more your can do about the motherboard; take its memory and cpu and math-coprocessor and sell them on eBay, and make the empty motherboard a downrange missile target. Don't worry, I'm still your well known curmudgeonette! It's now on a 486 overdrive chip and sounding pretty good.
I had to move a client system during that window of sanity between "the new drop has arrived" and "can we do this over a weekend so DNS can get over it's confusion while we're not looking?" Guess when that put it - you guessed it, deadline week. Luckily this doesn't happen too often. Even more luckily their successful transition to new IP numbers is one of the fastest I have ever seen. I need more clients like this one
I had mentioned that my Star Trek free software user group has been doing internet lounges. At least that went well - we had a great time at this last one, only toasted two monitors (sigh, this happens to old spare monitors occasionally) and people are just in love with Knoppix. I can tell you, it's not the icons, because nobody reads tooltips, or reads icon labels. It's the not having to login, and if anything goes wrong - or they are worried about privacy, or basically ANYTHING - they can just reboot it. Whee! I do have plans to play with Sunil's customization tricks and probably nail down some of the real FAQ generators. But overall, I say live CD based distros are really nice. Mind you, we did have to have a couple of machines that could play CDs to make everyone happy. I'd score it as a big win for Linux though.
The spam that has been leaking through is particularly silly. Some bot must think we're a "Gang" in the Hell's Angels sense, because now we're getting offers to sell us motorcycle gear. Lemme see, most of us already own leather jackets, and the ElfOS guy can't get a finer bike to ride. So sorry, guys. Then we have the hits on homework, offering us educational discounts... for a special you can get this week, if you answer two weeks ago. Hope that class project was a TARDiS. D'oh!
I've tried a bit of an experiment this month; the longer Tips that you are seeing are the shorter kind of answers that used to fill pages and pages of The Answer Guy column. We have some of the small ones stacked up, but these looked pretty useful. Of course, TAG is filled with the banter you're all used to, but perhaps these are shorter threads than you're used to seeing -- things were late enough already Have a lot of fun this summer!