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Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor should be sent to letters@lwn.net. Preference will be given to letters which are short, to the point, and well written. If you want your email address "anti-spammed" in some way please be sure to let us know. We do not have a policy against anonymous letters, but we will be reluctant to include them.

May 24, 2001

From:	 Dan Kegel <dank@kegel.com>
To:	 letters@lwn.net, dank@kegel.com
Subject: The way of CVS vs. the way of the patch
Date:	 Thu, 17 May 2001 00:44:41 -0700

There have long been friction between Linus and kernel subsystems 
developed using CVS.  On the one hand, the subsystem maintainer
uses CVS because it gets rid of the need for a central person to understand
and merge all changes; on the other hand, Linus rightly rejects patches
that contain tens or even hundreds of intertwined changes.

Thus I was surprised to read LWN saying "write access to the CVS 
repository for the LVM project is now enabled. This step is being 
taken as part of an effort to open up LVM development and to better 
integrate it with the rest of the kernel process."  Given the bad blood
between CVS and the standard kernel process, that statement is almost

The only way I can see the two worlds (CVS-lovers and 
human-readable-patch-lovers) coming together is if the LVM 
project put aside their current tree, started over from a CVS 
tree that contained exactly the 2.4.4 kernel version of LVM, 
and set up cvs to email some lieutenant of Linus the corresponding 
patch whenever a change was checked in.

Assuming each checkin was carefully tested and well commented,
and the lieutenant did a good job of filtering the patches and
providing quick feedback to the CVS-folk, this might keep the
two trees in good alignment, and avoid bloodshed.

Dan Kegel
From:	 Bill Carlson <wcarlson@vh.org>
To:	 <letters@lwn.net>
Subject: Perhaps you missed...
Date:	 Thu, 17 May 2001 12:03:43 -0500 (CDT)

>From the May 17,2001 LWN:

"That said, it is worth pointing out that, as far as we know, there is
still not a free, top-quality large network backup and restore system
available for Linux. Numerous commercial alternatives are out there, but
the available free systems just do not have the same level of features and
scalability. This could be a good project for somebody..."

Perhaps you missed a nice package by the name of AMANDA

You can read more about it here: http://www.backupcentral.com/amanda.html


Bill Carlson
Systems Programmer    bill-carlson@uiowa.edu	|  Opinions are mine,
Virtual Hospital      http://www.vh.org/        |  not my employer's.
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics	|

From:	 Rob Funk <rfunk@funknet.net>
To:	 letters@lwn.net
Subject: backups and icons
Date:	 Thu, 17 May 2001 21:16:10 -0400

I have two comments on the May 17 edition of Linux Weekly news....

First item: I greatly agree with your comments on the possible demise
of the BRU backup system and the implications of using proprietary
backup software, and have often argued similar things in the past.

However, I must take some issue with your final paragraph:
> That said, it is worth pointing out that, as far as we know, there
> is still not a free, top-quality large network backup and restore
> system available for Linux. Numerous commercial alternatives are out
> there, but the available free systems just do not have the same
> level of features and scalability. This could be a good project for
> somebody...

I don't think you give enough credit to the Amanda backup system
(www.amanda.org), which is quite scalable.  It doesn't have the pretty
GUI of BRU, but if you need a GUI for your backup system you're in
trouble when you lose the disk your X11 setup is on.

Before suggesting that somebody start a project to replace BRU, you
might suggest that someone contribute to existing projects such as
Amanda to make up for whatever deficiencies those projects might have
in comparison to BRU.

Second item: In the "On the desktop" section, Michael J. Hammel says:
> One other note for both GNOME and KDE: would someone please explain
> to me how to remove those icons on the root windows for both KDE and
> GNOME! Those silly things were introduced by Microsoft years ago and
> are, in the humble opinion of one old timer, an abomination.

I don't have an answer to the question (other than switch to something
like icewm and run GNOME and KDE apps from there), but I'm surprised
that this self-described "old timer" and graphic artist thinks that
Microsoft introduced those desktop icons.  Apple, of course,
introduced them to the world with the Macintosh back in 1984, and
Windows 95 adopted them (moving them from right to left and changing
the trash can to a recycle bin).  Not to understate Xerox PARC's role
in the issue, but Xerox didn't exactly introduce such things to the
world like Apple did.

While I generally respect Hammel's work, like others I am beginning to
question how his writing fits into LWN.  It reads more like a column
than a section of news, and none of the other sections read like that.
I don't remember ever seeing a line like "would someone please explain
to me how to do this..." in any other section of LWN -- LWN is
supposed to be a source of information, which knows how to find the
information it needs from other sources.  I believe that
desktop-oriented news is important, but the current style doesn't
inspire confidence in this news source.
==============================|   "A microscope locked in on one point
 Rob Funk <rfunk@funknet.net> |Never sees what kind of room that it's in"
 http://www.funknet.net/rfunk |    -- Chris Mars, "Stuck in Rewind"
From:	 "Floyd Sykes" <floydls@home.com>
To:	 <letters@lwn.net>
Subject: On The Desktop May 10 -- KDE Bloat
Date:	 Thu, 17 May 2001 17:40:53 -0400

> "The most practical solution for most people may well be to
> get a new motherboard with a 1.3 GHz CPU, install the latest KDE or
> GNOME, and not worry about small differences in window system
> performance. "

B. S. -- most people cannot afford new equipment, so this is not very
practical.  Most people run about 3 to 5 years behind the latest computer
systems.  They do not buy the latest because of the high cost and then tend
to keep the computer for a long time until it is clear that it will no
longer do.  A case in point: I got a Gateway P100 in Nov 1996.  At the time
it was on the knee of the price performance curve.  I still run (horrors)
win95 which does most of what I need.  Last year I got two P90s and a P133
with 48 MB RAM, all running the old KDE that came with Suse 6.4.  I run
icewm on an old 486-66 with no problems.  Yes, a faster computer would be
nicer but cast is a definite issue.

Also, I agree completely with Michael A. Schwarz in his email (Wrong way to
look at it).  The time to make a program fast and use less memory is when
it is designed and implemented, not later.  If you wait till later then you
miss the most beneficial time to improve it.  KDE and GNOME should work OK
on old equipment.  After all MS windows works and KDE and GNOME.  They are
not all that much more advanced.

Floyd Sykes

From:	 Dylan Griffiths <Inoshiro@kuro5hin.org>
To:	 letters@lwn.net
Subject: Untruth about kernel forks
Date:	 Sun, 20 May 2001 22:39:54 -0600

	In the 17th of May, 2001 LWN you said:
"*  No distributor ships a standard Linus kernel - all apply patches."
	This is not true.  Slackware ships with a standard kernel.  Only in rare
cases (such as the 2.2.16 kernel in 7.0) do they ship a patched version.
    www.kuro5hin.org -- technology and culture, from the trenches.
From:	 Eric Johansson <esj@harvee.billerica.ma.us>
To:	 letters@lwn.net
Subject: browser challenges
Date:	 Sat, 19 May 2001 08:23:59 -0400

in the May 17th Linux weekly news, there was a discussion of the state of
various browsers.  For me, one of the major shortcomings is the poor
quality of Java implementations.  I have managed to wean my wife off of
Microsoft products and the browser is the last hurdle.  My wife is addicted
to http://www.jigzone.com and http://www.popcap.com/psychobabble.html and
both sites count heavily on Java.  Unfortunately, both sites stress Java
enough to cause her machine to lock up under Netscape.  Mozilla Java
doesn't even start running and Opera isn't shipping a Java implementation
yet for Linux.

Unfortunately, a good quality browser means more than just rendering pages
correctly.  It's also a program execution environment which can impact the
rest of the machine.  I hope that browser developers will improve the
quality of their Java implementations and handle sites such as the ones
listed above.

--- eric



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