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Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.announce,comp.os.linux
Subject: Linux News #12 ASCII
Date: 25 Jan 93 16:50:35 GMT

L i n u x N e w s

A summary of the goings-on in the Linux community

Issue #12 Jan 25

Mottomme: "Hakkeroida ja Auttaa"

***** My Two Cents

Hello Activists! It seems that almost everyone liked the TeX version
of the News last week so I will continue to produce the TeX
version along with the ascii version. I actually beleive that
the version has some value beyond the initial impression it
makes: it provides a more tangible record of what is happening with
Linux (assuming that it is printed out). People can hand it to a
non--Activist and say ``See here's what is happening with the Linux
crowd''. Also, years from now I will be able to market the entire collection
of ``Linux News -- the Early Years'' in a handsome, nauguahide bound
set of autographed volumes in a one time limited offer available only to readers
of ``L --- the Journal of the Linux Operating System''.
**Editors Note: We have here ample evidence of why the editor is not a
business major!** Of course, none of this is possible if you don't
have TeX installed so I again urge everyone who has been waffleing on
the issue to go ahead and try TeX, but I will not cite the
following reasons:

1. It is the way that proper Linux hackers do things on a proper
Linux system!
2. Learning TeX is a trial that will make you a better
3. We are ``manly hackers'' who do not wear flannel pajamas
and who do not need any feelthy wysiwyg ``word processors''.
4. ``Science requires victims''.

No... I will not try and convince anyone with these arguments.

***** Announcements - The week in c.o.l. and c.o.l.a

- January 18 Doug Evans ``I have updated my Xenix filesystem
to 0.99.2 (yes, I know 0.99.3 is out).
This patch provides an implementation of the Xenix filesystem for Linux.
The implementation isn't complete in the sense that the following things
are missing: divvy partitions, badtrk table support, mkfs, fsck, fsdb.
To use this code with Linux, you must boot Xenix and run mkfs on a
full partition. EG: mkfs /dev/hd03 ... This code can also be used with
floppies (boot Xenix and do mkdev fd). In fact, I recommend testing
the patch out on floppies first. Note that fsck, mkfs, and fsdb can't
be run under Linux (they might work under the Xenix emulator, but I haven't
tried them yet).
I have added a simple implementation of symbolic links that won't send
fsck into fits. See fs/xenix/symlink.c for more information.

- January 18 Qi Xia has released the ALPHA version of his Linux
file system, based on the Minix Filesystem: `` LFS is a file system
designed and implemented for Linux OS which is
designed and implemented by Linus Torvalds with the help of many others
all over the world. lfs is based on Linus' minix file system.
Lfs provides following functions among others against minix file
system: long file name. 248 chars maximum, large file system. 2GB maximum
, multi-size block ready. (waiting for kernel support), defragment,
support simple bootstrip.
xia-lfs-0.6.tar.Z and Image.922.06

- January 18 Cory Minyard has announced his driver for the Sony
CDU-31A cd--rom drive.`` This will drive the newer
Sony interface (not SCSI) drives for audio and data. () The
driver is mostly complient with the Sun driver (as described in
the cdrom.h include file under include/linux) and will mount CDROMs
and play audio CDs. I have included xcdplayer with it; the stuff to
play CDs seems to work fine but a bug in the title stuff will cause a
core dump. Since that is not related to the driver, I have not been
too concerned with it. I will try to fix that as soon as I have

- January 19 Thomas Koenig has uploaded versions of the
Unix at(1) and batch(1) commands which do not contain the
security bug of the previous version.

- January 19 Chris Newbold ``Though the current SCSI drivers
deal quite happily with SCSI-2 CD-ROM drives,
the ioctls to play audio tracks, etc. were never implemented. I have
implemented all of the Sun "standard" ioctls as defined in linux/cdrom.h.
Also included are patches against the stock xcdplayer source to get it
to compile under Linux. There are some rough edges in xcdplayer that are
not the result of bugs in the ioctls. At some point, I am going to write
a better cd-player, perhaps like the one that comes with Windows NT (it
keeps artist, album and track names and lets you search for a specific
track and other neato stuff).I developed and tested with linux
0.99-pl23 with the aha1542 driver and a Sony CDU-541 drive.''

- January 21 Peter MacDonald noted that many massive changes to
his SLS distribution caused a few problems for early testers: ``RECAP:
All of the 'a' series was replaced, either due to corr
files, or to fixes.
Also from the 'b' series:
libm.tpz: /usr/bin/libhard.a
tcpip.tpz: corr, but not critically so
make.tpz: contains (ok, so this stinks, see below)
shlib41.tpz: This version of SLS removed all previous shared libs, but
forgot that idraw and doc were linked with it -classic.
The current kernel version is 99p2, but the login message claims to
be 1.0 (I was banking on the xmas release).
You can get the gzip file from the SLS root in Gzip.taz.
You can get the new sysinstall from menus.tpz. It handles both
the old .taz formats, and the new .tpz format. Some ask me why
I choose .tpz. Well actually there is a very good reason.
It was a typo
Ted suggested .tzp, and I agreed and added it to sysinstall.
Then I made a scr to convert all the packages and
mistyped the name. I was so tired, I never caught it until
after uploading to tsx-11 (just ask anyone who got the
first a1 disk I put up). So now were stuck with it.
Not that it matters too much to me what the extension is.
Look also for the new 'd' or documentation series. Also
coming soon is the 's' or source series, which will be
a very small (2-3 disk) series containing sources that
are central to the operation configuration or are
volatile and being worked on. These included tcpip,
shadow passwd, getty, sysv init, etc.
X11 1.2 should be out soon, with VT switching and hopefully
jump table libs. After that, I would like to flesh out
Interviews to include the development environment (jumpified).
Also, metamail will be added, to give a MIME compliant mail
After that, I want to concentrate on just getting SLS
more solidly configured/configurable, rather than letting
it grow any more. I am pretty insistent upon trying to
keep the size to = 30 disks (thank you gzip). In particular,
I want to stop putting links in tar arcives. I will
use the install scr capability instead, and use the
force ion, unless gnu adds such an ion to tar.
Also, want to improve the upgrade process. Finally,
using the pro ion upon install, will printout
the contents of an package, if such a descrion is
contained in the "diskXN" file on each disk. So
I will try to get those updated too.

- January 15 Ken Wallace has made utree, the directory
and file manager, binaries available. Utree is a neat curses based
program with a lot of features try it if you were used to using
something like Stereo Shell or Xtree in MS-dos., and

- January 15 Ray Burr announced the Amiga FFS filesystem for
Linux: `` This is a patch relative to 0.99pl2 that will allow Linux to read
(readonly) Amiga FFS filesystems. It should be OK for patchlevel 3
although I haven't tried it yet.''

- January 15 Michael K. Johnson announced ``Yet Another Release
of Yet Another Proc PS''. Michael asks all to upgrade in order to
prevent continuing bugification. If you haven't installed /proc PS
do it . It will simplify your life. In the package are:
ps, free (From Linus), ime, tload (a hack), xload (from Drew), and
fuser (perl scr version).

- January 15 Kevin Sanders has uploaded Chainsaw-2.2 (???).

- January 15 Hannu Savolainen has made version 0.5 of his sound
driver available. ``It supports AdLib, SoundBlaster (versions 1.0 to
2.0), SoundBlaster Pro/Pro 2, ProAudioSpectrum 16.It works also with
some SB compatible cards such as ThunderBoard and Ati Stereo F/X.''

- January 15 Romano Giannetti has released two more versions of
the utree port. ``I have compiled utree (a nice PCTOOLS-like
file browser) for Linux, and setup it's nice X11 version xtree (just
a scr and few more). I have compiled it on a Linux box with
0.99pl1 kernel, and gcc 2.2.2d. I don't know if binaries
will run smoothly with the new gcc 2.3.3 - libc release. Sources
modified for Linux are here, if you want''.

- January 16 Thomas Dunbar has uploaded, containing
diffs for a minix--type filesystem with a thirty character limit on

- January 17 David Engel announced his front end for all the
filesystems and checkers now being created.

- January 21 Peter Orbaek ``I have seen several people
having problems compiling poeigl 1.7 with
gcc 2.3.3. To those that want a newer version, that will compile
with gcc 2.3.3. version 1.9a is available.''

- January 21 Rik Faith has uploaded new utility binaries, also
including Gnu tar1111B, which has support gzip, the Gnu standard

January 21 Donald Becker announced drivers for the ``common''
8390 based ethernet boards: `` Currently "common" is defined as:
3Com Products:
* 3Com 3c503 Board loaned by Chance Reschke,
3Com 3c503/16 and excellent documentation provided by 3Com.
NE1000 Novell and Eagle are useless for
* NE2000 but copied the designs directly from
* Alta Combo(NE2000 clone)
Aritsoft LANtastic AE-2 (NE2000 clone w/ extra memory)
D-Link Ethernet II
Cabletron products:
E1010 No ID PROM and sketchy info from Ctron means
E1010-x have to compile-in information about your
E2010, E2010-x
WD/SMC products
* WD8013 Board loaned by Russ Nelson, Crynwr Software.
* I've seen it work myself!
There is support for the following boards, but since I've only been
able to borrow a thinnet of an HP ethercard I haven't been able to
test it:
HP LAN adors
** HP27245
** HP27247
** HP27250
If your 8390-based ethercard isn't on this list please send me email
and, if possible, documentation and an evaluation board. and

- January 22 Chris Newbold ``Well, since I got so much response
to my first announcement about
writing a better CD-ROM audio tool for X windows informing me about
WorkMan, I decided to port it to Linux. It's got album/artist and
track title memory and many, many nifty ions. Check it out.

The port was trivial, but it uncovered a couple of subtle bugs in the
ioctls, hence the new release of that package too. The driver
package (scsi2audio-0.2 at
contains patches for xcdplayer, WorkMan 4.01 (original sources at and a replacement
sr_ioctl.c for 0.99-pl1 and newer kernels.

- January 21 Here's the latest from Linus ``patch'' Torvalds:
``As you can see, I'm back to the old ``once or twice a week'' kernel
version cycle. The reason is the existence of some silly bugs in pl3
that don't always show up, but can lock up your machine or result in
other weird errors (parse errors in gcc etc). It depends on your
hardware setup - specifically what kinds of interrs your motherboard
sends, so I (and many others) actually never saw it.

0.99pl4 is a small diff (1300 lines of diff - and it sounds more than it
actually is), and contains only bug-fixes. The changes are:
- include/asm/irq.h: fix the irq handling bug by adding a missing
initialization of a segment register, console redirection bug
fixed, Makefile fixes, support for more than 64 tasks - it was there before, but the GDT
overflowed with NR_TASKS more than about 120.. ,race() - the
bogus ESRCH bug is corrected (fix by Branko Lankester?
Hope I haven't messed up the attributions *again*), flock() support by
adding two new ioctl() values - hlu, seagate.c patches (Eric
Youngdale) to fix the problem with some disks off the ST-0x
controller, tcp/ip volatile fixes (sorry - lost the attribution),
remount patches by almesber.


- January 24 Werner Almsberger has released a new version of
the DOS filesystem as an ALPHA release because there are many changes.
It is not a part of the official kernel yet. and

/*********** Linux News Interview: Michael K. Johnson ************/
[email protected]

Michael K. Johnson has been an active contributer to the Linux
community and a Linux enthusiast since Linus released version 0.02 of
the kernel. On a whim I asked Michael to do an interview and he
agreed, quickly providing me with answers to all my questions. I think
the following interchange will be interesting to hackers in general,
particularly those who may be geographically isolated from other Linux
users. There are a million stories on the Internet this is just
one of them.

** L.N. How did you get into hacking, Michael?

** M.J. Until about two and a half years ago, I was mostly an
end-user, and didn't do much programming. However, I knew I wanted
to do more, and I knew that I wanted 32-bit internals, so when I
bought my new computer, I got the best I could afford (actually,
more than I could afford, but that's beside the point ): a
386 sx 16Mhz, with 4MB of ram and an 80 MB SCSI hard drive. I
plunged into learning as much about computers as I could from
that time on.

I had DOS on my computer at the time, and Turbo C, and learned to
program in C by writing a C program for the speach-theater department
here at St. Olaf. It was a really bad program, but was better than
the batch file that my boss thought that I should write.

** L.N. How did you become interested in Unix?

** M.J. Because St. Olaf was the first site west of the Mississippi to get
unix, or so I've been told, there is a strong tradition of hacking
unix here, although the computer center is doing its best to kill the
``hacking'' part of that So I had enough exposure to unix to know
that I wanted it for my own computer. I looked at prices, and tried
to figure out how to get $1200, but deep down, I knew that two things
were true:
1) I didn't want to pay that much
2) If I did, I would spend all my time playing with it.
Both were true

I knew that I liked using unix, though I really didn't know why, and
so when Coherent 3.1 came out, I eagerly bought a copy, and thus found
out that my SCSI ader wasn't all that great... I almost bought
minix, but I understood that it wouldn't work with my SCSI ader
either. So I got QuarterDeck's Desqview (I WANTED multitasking) and
dealt with that.

** L.N. So how did you stumble upon Linux?

** M.J. I was reading comp.os.minix and saw Linus's announcement of Linux .02,
and I knew what I wanted to do. I assumed that pretty soon, Linux
would be a self-supporting environment, and I knew that I wanted to be
ready. I started eagerly reading, and when I
saw a 100MB IDE drive for a price that I could afford, I jumped at
it. Well, the drive was defective, and it took a long time to get a
new one, and by the time I got the new one, Linux was at version .03,
and could be installed with just the minix boot disk (to make the
filesystem) and a linux boot and root combination.

I have been using Linux as my main OS ever since. I occasionally have
to use DOS or even windoze for work, but one person I am working for
is even thinking about switching over

I started reading kernel source as soon as I got linux on--line. I
have James Turley's excellent book on the '386 (given to me by a
hacker--friendly prof here), and this was a great boon to understanding
the memory management code, especially.

For the first few weeks, I lurked, but I couldn't lurk for long. When
someone asked for a buglist maintainer, I volunteered. However, the
speed at which bugs have been fixed in linux soon made this an
obsolete idea. In the meanwhile, I had been volunteered to keep up a
set of unofficial patches for linux. I said, ``Well, I'd love to, but
I would have to have an account on someone's ftp site if I were to do
that, and (understandably) no one would want to do that.'' The next
day, Ted Ts'o sent me mail saying that he would certainly be willing
to give me an account on his machine,, to do that. And
although my patches directory there is no longer the site for
patches, as many are instead in ALPHA and BETA subdirectories, I
started helping Ted maintain the whole /pub/linux area at tsx--11 about
a month after getting my account there, and I have helped maintain
that area ever since.

I have also very much enjoyed answering as many questions as I can. I
do find, however, that it is a lot easier to answer questions that are
asked in an understandable way, so ``My computer does foo when I
boot, then stops. Here's my configuration'', is more likely to get an
answer than ``My computer doesn't work. Why?''

** L.N. What are some of the programs you've worked on?

M.J. I have hacked on several little packages all over the place, but I
have made a few larger--sized contributions. I spent many hours trying
to imize the lp device for polled operations. Happily, someone
else has made a interr--driven driver, which co--exists wth the
polled driver, so we have the best of both
worlds. I extended the proc filesystem over Christmas
break, and am writing and collecting an entire suite of proc--based
ps--style programs, including ime, w, free, fuser, et. al. Well,
almost all

I have also worked on documentation, one way or another, since late
February 1992. Right now, I am maintaining the LaTeX style file for
the linux documentation project, and am the editor of the Linux Kernel
Hackers' Guide, which is really meant to do two things:
1) document the structures that exist in the Linux kernel, so that
hackers can deal with them more easily, and
2) give kernel hacker wannabe's a step up into hacking the kernel,
including explanations of a lot of simple OS conceptss.
So, a lot of Real Kernel Hackers won't care for it, 'cause it will be
too cluttered for them, but that's OK --- they've gone without it for
long enough that they can get along without it. And hopefully the
rest of us will use it.

** L.N. Technically, why did you choose to go with
polling for the printer driver instead of interrupts?

** M.J. Because quite a few cards don't even allow interrs. DOS doesn't
use them, and so many vendors didn't bother. This has caused much
stress to many trying to print under OS/2 2.0. However, it is a good
thing that someone also provided an interr-driven driver, so that
people whose hardware is not brain-damaged don't have to suffer.

It is worth noting that a polling driver can output data faster than
an interr--driven driver for some of the most modern printers, I
think. I have not tested this, but since the HP laserjet 4 can take
characters almost in a tight loop from the processor, I have a feeling
that it would really thrash an interr--driven driver. Fortunately,
with the new system, this is dynamically configurable .

** L.N. Have you been able to (or interested
in) getting other people at your school to look at Linux?

** M.J. Yeah --- There are several people who are installing Linux on their
computers, and the CS department and the Computing Center would both
like to make Linux networks, or at least would consider it, if there
were much money floating around. Or so they tell me. I know that
there are several individuals who would certainly like this to happen.
However, documentation needs to get better before a lot of this could
really happen.

Just today I helped a friend (my cousin, actually) remove
about 25 MB of junk from his HD so that he can install Linux in the
near future. (Finding four 5MB bitmaps that weren't necessary or even
wanted sped up the process )

A guy upstairs also is really interested in installing it, and there
are several people who graduated last year who now are running Linux.
My father hasn't converted, but a small law firm that I have worked
for in the past is considering it. They do have mission--critical
dos apps, so this would depend on a good dos emulator, but the guy
with the purse strings likes the idea, at least in principle.

** L.N. Any special references or advice to those
who are interseted in writing system device driver stuff?

** M.J. A few references. The first is a plug for vaporware:
`` The Linux Kernel Hackers' Guide '' which I am writing
should be very helpful. Also, one
of the appendices to the guide is an annotated bibliography. Books
that are in that bibliography, and which have helped me, are:

1.The C Programming Language, by K&R, of course.
2.Advanced Programming in the UNIX(tm) Environment, by W. Richard Stevens
3.Tanenbaum's texts (as much bad as he has had to say about linux,
there are good things in his texts )
4.Operating Systems, by William Stallings
5.Advanced 80386 Programming Techniques, by James Turley

And I am sure that Bach's book would be helpful if I could stomach the
$60+ price

** L.N. How about some advice for Junior Kernel

** M.J. Read the kernel. Read the kernel. Read the kernel. Really.
You will pick up understanding, piece by piece, and bit by bit. Don't
be discouraged if you don't understand it the first time through.
Then, as you start to understand, fix your knowledge firmly by doing
something. It doesn't have to be sent to the world, and it doesn't
even have to work . The important thing is to start coding, and you
will learn by doing. Try writing a new filesystem, or a new device.

Then, if you decide to release your changes, be ready for a lot of
good and bad criticism, as well as praise. Listen to it, and learn.
Don't take it at face value. Question both the advice and yourself,
thinking about it, reading about it.

And also read. Keep up on the field. And although there is a lot of
trash on comp.os.linux, the worthwhile stuff is really
worthwhile, in my opinion. Join the mailing list.
([email protected]) Join the effort, and start doing
stuff that people need.

** L.N. To finish up, Michael, how about a few words
about your other interests and future plans?

** M.J. I love to write (can you tell?) I currently have a movie scr on
the back burner. It will never be produced, I am sure, but that is
hardly the point. I am actively writing two books right now, as well.
I come from a family of writers: although few write for a living,
many write for fun. As a child, I read a real book or more each day,
and still love to read. I also enjoy Bible study, woodworking, teaching,
mathematics, juggling, and cooking.

I am getting married in June. My fianc'e is going on to grad school
for her PhD in Math, but we don't know just where yet. This of course
makes it difficult for me to find a job. However, I hope to find a
job, preferably dealing with something at a reasonably low level, like
kernel hacking, but really anything involving interesting hacking.

In the far distant future, I don't know if I want to work in the
computer industry (probably getting a MS) or if I want to get a PhD
and teach computer science, so I am waiting to see how I like the
``Real World'' first.

/* ----------------------------------------------------------------- */

I made a little mistake in
not telling everyone where the input file was located, in case someone
needed to print on a non--Linux machine. Well, Hunter Goatley's
mondo macros may be found in the file newsletr.tex and, of course,
archie can tell everyone where to find newsletr.tex .
_Iff_ you do not have a way to ask archie where to find
newsleter.tex or gentle.tex , the tutorial by Michael
Doob, send me mail and I'll help. Try archie first though, if you are
able. I was considering putting a section at the end of the News
telling people where stuff could be found but it might seem too
much like a Jerry Pournelle column. The motto is in Finnish again this
week because I spelled it wrong last time thanks again to the
many people who sent translations and other mail. If you sent me mail
and I did not reply, go ahead and mail again if you wish. In typical
Navy Brat fashion I may have lost your correspondence in a fit of
``throwing stuff away'' because my mailbox is so full.
As usual, suggestions etc. to:
Denise M. Tree
[email protected]
[email protected]

Happy Hacking
to everyone!

Send submissions for comp.os.linux.announce to: [email protected]

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