Ask Shadowman

March 2003

Don't call it a comeback. He's here, once again, to crack your confusion and maybe some skulls. He's got one name like Faust or Spock, don't hate him because he's beautiful, and more importantly, don't hate him for being... The Shadowman.

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

Lau took the shortcut to RTFM and yelped:
do u know how to sort the directory listing of /etc in ascending and decending order of file size by using command, and u need to specify a sort field?

what is man page?

Shadowman says:
You can sort 'ls' a few ways. In the case of your query, 'ls -S' will sort by size. Largest files first. If you add an 'r' you can reverse that sort thusly 'ls -Sr'.

You can do neato stuff like having it output a readable size string as well (e.g. 4.0K instead of 4096 for file size) by adding lh, like so 'ls -lhS'. 'h' indicates "human readable" and 'l' asks for the long output of the file.

A man page (short for manual page) is where you could have found the above information. Type 'man ls' or 'man most_any_command' to get information on the use of the tool.

Harry G. had only one question. In four parts. With various and sundry sub-parts:
i have a few questions concerning compatibility.

  1. First is Linux compatible with Windows XP programs such as Word & Excel? Will the word processor and spreadsheet that is in your package open and edit Word and Excel files?
  2. Does your Linux come with an antivirus and firewall that is comparable with Norton?
  3. Can I install Linus as a dual boot operating system, keeping my Window XP on the system until I decide if I like Linux?
  4. Will e-mail clients such as Incredimail, Netscape, Outlook Express work under Linux?

Shadowman says:

  1. Not with the programs, unless you use products from CodeWeavers. Yes, the docs are usually compatible. When Shadowman gets to making complex spreadsheets, with lots of intertwined formulas and work sheets, and then embeds that into a .doc, and then tries to open, sometimes things go kablooie.
  2. Virus? There are firewalls galore. By default Red Hat ships with a graphical tool or two for configuring firewalls, depending on which version you are running.
  3. Linus may not like it, however Linux will like it just fine.
  4. Incredimail- never heard of it, Netscape - yes (Mozilla too), Outlook - no, but there's an awfully nice clone called Evolution. There's upwards of a hundred more, as well.

In short:

To Jim N. who wanted to know how to enable shadow passwords post install, Shadowman Says: use 'authconfig', type 'man authconfig' for the usage info.

To buzzbiker, who had trouble with checksums and isos, Shadowman Says: Each iso has its own checksum, all in one file on ftp. 8.0s media checker should cycle through all discs, checking each before install.

To Bill P. who wanted a little database love, Shadowman Says: Try PostgreSQL, or the Red Hat Database (which is based on PostgreSQL) at or, respectively.

And to all the purveyors of virility cures insisting on littering Shadowman's Inbox. Shadowman says: Yer barking up the wrong tree.