Ask Shadowman: Red Hat Linux as a Desktop Operating System


October 2002

He's prettier than a shiny new log chain! He's naked from the chin down! He's got only one name like Mork or Nico! He's the Shadowman... And he joins us once again to answer the toughest questions anybody dared ask a two-dimensional logo.

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

(p.s. Last month the email address on the web page was listed incorrectly as shadowman@redhat.com. Our apologies. That alias belongs to a guy downstairs who on the weekends wears a homemade superhero suit and tries to rescue squirrels from trees. We leave him alone.)


Peter H. jabbered:
I'm a consultant working with a client that uses Star Office to produce .sxw documents. I don't have (nor, currently, need) Star, but I do need to read these documents. Is there a Word or IE plug-in that will allow me to read them?

Shadowman says:
Well, Shadowman doesn't do Windows. But Star Office does have a Windows port. If, like Shadowman, you are thrifty or want to stick it to Sunman, mosey on down to OpenOffice.org and get the free and open version. They are functionally equivalent. Yo've got the time, you've got the disk space, let 'er rip!

There's no plug-in or reader that has seen it's way to the Shadow Lair, try Google and see.


LeRoy H. got sick and tired and bellowed:
I see no need for root controlling kppp. Will Red Hat be willing to let household users be free of root dominating ppp and /dev/ttyS* devices?

Shadowman says:
Shadowman puts

USERCTL=true
in
/etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-ppp0
To allow users to bring up the ppp interface. If you mean use of the kppp app itself, you *could* set the permissions differently.


Chris H. flippantly remarked:
1)Lack of a universal installer.
2)StarOffice can't export to word format.
3)Too few game titles supported.

Shadowman says:
1)The universe is a mighty big place.
2)It can't? Works for Shadowman.
3)Check out winex, it's got a lot of the good one's working. (www.transgaming.com)


Damian Van D. coughed u:
Are you aware of an open source equililant to Microsoft's Visio?

Shadowman says:
No, but Shadowman knows of a couple of equivalents. dia and Kivio. Shadowman uses Kivio when he wants to plot out the flow of his home stereo system, and his ad hoc wireless network. It has most of the bells, and a good chunk of the whistles you might have grown accustomed to in Visio. AFASK, neither will import existing Visio charts.


Noor M. hollered:
I HAVE INSTALLED REDHAT LINUX 7.1 ( CD PURCHASED FROM A DEALER IN U.A.E) ON A COMPAQ PROLINT ML-370 WITH TWIN PROCESSOR AND WITH A RAID CARD AND ATTACHED 3 x 36 GB HARD DISK. THE CARD PRESENTS THIS 3 DISKS TO THE OS AS ONE LOGINCAL DISK OF 72 GB WITH RAID 5 .

AFTER THAT I HAVE ISTALLED ORACLE 9I VERSION 9.0.1 . I HAVE COPIED ALL THE ORACLE DATABASE FROM ORACLE 8I RUNNING ON NOVELL 5.1 ( WHICH WAS ROCK SOLID) . INITIALLY THE APPLICATIONS WERE RUNNING VERY FAST ON THE 9I . BUT AS TIME PASSED ON,? IT WAS GRINDING TO ALMOST HALT. I TRIED VMSTAT . THE RESULT SHOWED THAT A VAST MAJORITY OF THE MEMORY WAS TAKEN AS CACHE

...

AFTER REBOOTING THE SYSTEM THE CACHE VALUE IS DROPPED TO VERY MINIMAL. AS TIME PASSED, IT STARTED GROWING AGAIN AND AT THE END IT STARTED SWAPPING MEORY TO DISK!

Shadowman says:
Shadowman is not now, nor has he ever been Kreskin, but Shadowman is assuming this is an early 2.4 kernel.

In older 2.4 kernels, there were conditions that would push the system into the cache, and never let it out. Kind of like that time ruffians pushed Shadowlad into the girl's locker room. Being president of the PC club wasn't the E ticket ride Shadowlad thought it would be.

Anyway... more recent kernels are greedier about reclaiming that cache and recovering. As you mention in your letter, Red Hat Linux Advanced Server may be the way for you to go.


Avi H. gritted his teeth and hissed:
How do read/write from a sherd document lib on a Windows XP pro.

Shadowman says:
Mount the XP folder thusly:

mount -t vfat /partition/xp_share /mount_point
Where the file system follows -t, don't bother with NTFS, not just because NTFS killed Shadowman's parents, but because it don't work right with Linux.

Replace '/partition/xp_share with the partition/location of your XP document folder and /mount_point with a valid mount point.

cd /mount_point
And you should see the documents. Open from and/or write to that folder and all should be right as rain.

Shadowman adds that mount point to /etc/fstab when setting up dual boots.


In short:

To Dave T. and Tim H., who wanted to access MS machines and/or printing, Shadowman says: "Samba (www.samba.org) is your friend."

To Oliver F., who wondered about hosting multiple domains, Shadowman says: "http://httpd.apache.org/docs/vhosts/ is your friend."

To John P, with the D-Link issues, Shadowman says: "insmod 8139too, *should* be your friend"

To Mark C., who wishes to display X remotely, Shadowman says: "xhost +remote_station_name, is your friend"

To Il Matematico, who likes to bushwhack people at private pool parties for people's luchadore friends, Shadowman says: "Watch your back, muchacho, me and El Hombre del Fuego have a world class, behind the wood shed, mind numbing, world shaking, good ol' fashioned beatin' waiting for you. You and that mangy dog of yours."