Issue #8 June 2005

Ask Shadowman

Confidential to the pretty lady at Vaughn's Lounge, that happening little juke joint in the Bywater where the funky brass band played until they closed the place down and threw everybody out into the street at nearly four o'clock in the blessed AM:

Don't fret, darling. Shadowman hasn't danced his last merengue with you by a long shot. This summer's Red Hat Summit was only the first of many, and everyone had such a great time, it's a good bet that Shadowman will be back in New Orleans with the Latin flavor in his hips again next year. And even if the event moves on to Vegas or Miami Beach, Shadowman may make a special trip back to the Bywater for a little bit of that red beans and rice.

Mmm, mmm, mmm. Have mercy.

Kind of makes returning to the old monthly column a bit of an anticlimax. But hey, Shadowman's not the type of guy to sing the blues for long, so let's get this party started.

Got a question that you'd like Shadowman to answer? Ask him.


Someone whose name Shadowman does not feel comfortable printing in a family publication asks:

I just graduated from Arizona State University and they are in the process of revamping their Computer Information Systems program. I was wondering what the likelihood of Red Hat and ASU working together to churn out Linux experts would be (the Phoenix area has a reasonable Intel and IBM presence and I'm pretty sure they would appreciate the human capital). Do I have to work my mojo on Robert St. Louis, the department chair, to get him to contact you? Is there somebody at Red Hat I can get in contact with to work their mojo on him? I think adding RHCE courses to the curriculum would benefit everyone! If you could send one of Red Hat's finest to teach the course it could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

To which Shadowman replies:

Ah, "someone" (and you should really reconsider that username if Shadowman won't even print it), fortunately there's not a lot of mojo that needs to be worked in this case. The nice folks at Red Hat Academy have done enough preliminary working of the mojo, so that very little additional mojo work is required.

Red Hat Academy is designed to be offered by any secondary or post-secondary school and can be taught by anyone who attends the instructor training and certification. The curriculum consists of four courses that are designed to prepare diligent students for the RHCT certification exam.

So "someone," get in touch with the nice folks at Red Hat Academy. The mojo you work may be your own.

bigmack asked:

My system uses an NVIDIA FX5200 card for graphics. When I boot up the machine under FC3 with ALL patches installed, and I do a startx, I see for a split second, the nvidia logo, and, everything appears to be working just fine. Then I open a command prompt and still all is fine. The moment I try to resize that window, or move it around a little, the system locks up, and, the only thing I can do is move my mouse pointer around. I am forced to press the reset button as ctrl+alt+bksp doesn't do anything. This appears to be a DRIVER issue, I have downloaded the latest from the web. My question is, WHO is responsible for nvdia drivers as far as FEDORA is concerned? Is it Red Hat, or is it NVIDIA, or even is it the manufacturer of my card. I need to get to someone that can understand my issue, and give me some way to make it work correctly.

To which Shadowman replies:

First of all, some practical help: check out this thread at fedoraforum.org. Lots and lots of discussion about nVidia problems with Fedora Core 3, including some folks with symptoms exactly like yours. They seem clueful.

And secondly, to answer your question: WHO is responsible for nVidia drivers as far as FEDORA is concerned?

You are.

In this case, it wasn't too difficult to find the right answer, or at least hints to point you in the right direction; a Google search for "nvidia FX5200 Fedora" turns up the fedoraforum.org discussion pretty quickly, and it's a very knowledgeable discussion that occurs over a period of months.

See, that's how the community works. Among users of free software, responsibility is shared. If it doesn't work for you, it's your responsibility to go find out why—and then when you've figured it out, it's your responsibility to share that knowledge with someone else. Even if that means going directly to nVidia's Linux forums and saying, "hey! your drivers are busted!"

athleston asks:

I recently wanted to contribute to the LinEAK project by providing custom codes for my internet keyboard. Directions on the project site refer to use of 'xev' in xterminal. But my Linux system has no product by that name nor can I seem to Google it. :) What can you tell me about it my knowledgeable Shadow?

To which Shadowman replies:

According to the man page, "xev" is the X Event Viewer, a tool for XFree86 that allows users to view X events, to see what causes these events to occur, and to display the information contained in those events. Like, for example, what event data is associated with the press of the "thorn" key on an Olde English keyboard. It's likely that you can't find "xev" because you don't have the package XFree86-tools installed. This is a simple fix: simply run "up2date XFree86-tools" and you should be good to go.

Now, ordinarily Shadowman might give you a little bit of jive about "not being able to Google xev," since Googling "man xev" immediately turns up all kinds of relevant information. This month, though, Shadowman doesn't feel particularly like throwing stones from his glassed-in living room, considering last month's misstep....

Superman points out:

Shadowman should read the su manpage. su is all about substitute user and has nothing to do with superusers (although super humans still might be inclined to use it). And if you do not specify who you want to substitute with, the default is indeed root, who still may or may not be a super human.

And seelbach points out:

You say "People can be terribly imprecise when they try to help."

Yes—you can be. :)

The "su" command does not mean "superuser". It means "switch user" or "substitute user". "superuser" is just a synonym for the user named "root". The abreviated syntax for su is:

su [-] [USER]

...where USER can be any userid on the system. If USER is omitted, the default is to "su" (switch) to the root userid.

To which Shadowman replies:

Ahem. Yes. "Switch user." Exactly, just so, as "man su" will surely tell you.

On a side note, Shadowman worries that Madame Editor will one day discover his true modus operandi:

  • Pick a simple technical question;
  • Provide an answer that is imprecise, incomplete, or flat-out wrong;
  • Wait for readers to correct Shadowman, thereby providing many column inches on Shadowman's behalf, lessening Shadowman's monthly load.

Until that day comes, though, friends—do Shadowman a favor and don't let on. It's awfully hard for costumed heroes to make it these days without a constant display of either rock hard abs or a calculated, brooding sort of anger. To be honest, Shadowman likes his beer a little too much to pull off either of those looks convincingly.