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[aclug-L] Fw: [Lockergnome Penguin Shell] Quantum Cockroaches

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Subject: [aclug-L] Fw: [Lockergnome Penguin Shell] Quantum Cockroaches
From: Anthony A Bogardus <abogardus@xxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2002 23:09:25 -0600
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From: Lockergnome Penguin Shell<subscriptions@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: abogardus@xxxxxxxx
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2002 12:30:24 -0600
Subject: [Lockergnome Penguin Shell]  Quantum Cockroaches


  01.21.2002 PenguinREPORT

Hardware compatibility? Funky BIOS settings? Install nightmares? All you
wanted was a functional Linux system. Fullbrain Technologies' focus is on
the Penguin. We can create and install your Linux system to your specs,
overseen by the chief Penguin Shell himself. Visit our site, then email
us your specs, or call us at (800)745-8996. It's all about the

When I stumbled straight into a writer's wall last night while preparing
this issue of Penguin Shell, I did what I always do - sat down in the
living room with a half-gallon of Moose Lake Fudge ice cream and flipped
on the rebroadcast of The Screensavers. It turned out to be a
re-rebroadcast of a show that aired last week, including an interview
with noted quantum physicist Dr. Michio Kaku. Much of what he had to say
has stayed with me throughout the day. Especially interesting were his
comments on the intellect of current computers ("retarded cockroaches")
and his theory that Moore's Law will come crashing in on itself in the
next 30 years. What I found the most fascinating was his brief
description of quantum computing. It's funny, but I'm sure this all
sounds to me like the possibility of personal computers sounded to my
parents. Which only means that it will probably happen sooner rather than
I took the plunge this weekend that I'd promised a few weeks ago: posting
a new blog. I chose Blogger as the posting tool, though many others are
available. This canned set of tools made it possible to be up and running
within a few hours. I've got enough other development projects on my
plate to appreciate a real time saver. I may yet look into some of the
other tools, such as Movable Type, but, for now, Blogger perfectly suits
my needs. The writing is a bit broader in scope than Penguin Shell and, I
hope, a bit more insightful into the world in general. Feel free to visit
and leave your comments. Just be patient - I'm still getting my old
blogger's feet under me.
Tony Steidler-Dennison       


Tailing Along
An interesting and useful tool in Linux is the ability to follow along as
files are being written. This is especially valuable when the need arises
to see log files as their entries are being created. For example, after
setting up my procmail filtering system, I wanted to watch the log files
being written just to be sure that the system was working as it should.
The tool for viewing these "on the fly" log entries is tail
The tail command prints the last ten lines of a named file to the
standard output. Using the proper options, tail will repeat the process,
printing the new last ten lines. In other words, you can view file
creation in a way that's nearly interactive.
The syntax for the tail command is:
    tail [options] [file]
Here are three useful options for tail and the resulting output:
-fFollow the file as it grows. Ends when user presses [ctrl][c].
-nPrints the last number of lines.
-n[k]Start printing at the nth k-type item from the end of the file.
These items can be lines, blocks, or characters.

Since I've already mentioned 'tail'ing my procmail log, I'll show you the
command I use by way of example:
    [tony@server tony]$ tail -f ./procmail/log &
This command prints the last ten lines of the ./procmail/log file to the
console. As new mail is received and processed by procmail, I can watch
the console window for the results of that processing, in real time.
That's made possible by the f option, which instructs tail to follow the
file as it grows. It's very useful for testing and debugging the recipes
that make up my mail filtering.
Another good use of tail is in combining it with grep. This command will
show the last three lines containing instances of the string 'FORMAIL' in
the .procmailrc file:
    [tony@server tony]$ grep 'FORMAIL' .procmailrc | tail -3
This can be especially useful when creating and debugging long scripts.
Putting a tail on a file can tell you very useful stuff. It's like your
own personal file detective.
Send This to a Friend 
Send This to a Friend


Journalling Filesystems
We talked awhile back about ext3, the journalling filesystem found on new
RedHat distributions, among others. You also have the option of
installing ReiserFS, the other viable journalling filesystem option for
your Linux system. To understand how these systems work and their value,
a short discussion of filesystems in general is in order.
All filesystems, regardless of the operating system, need to keep track
of two things. First, they need to keep track of files themselves - data.
More important to the concept of journalling filesystems is an ability to
keep track of data about the files. Such things as where the file is
physically stored on a disk, who created the file and when, modification
dates, and permissions are all considered part of the filesystem's
meta-data. A filesystem needs to track both data and meta-data in order
to guarantee the integrity and consistency of your files.
Problems with both data and meta-data can arise when a system crashes
without properly accounting for these data types. If the system crashes
at the moment the filesystem is accounting for the data, you'll probably
lose any changes to the file. The file will still exist, but only in the
state in which it was last saved. On the other hand, if this crash occurs
when the filesystem is writing the meta-data, it's possible that you'll
lose the entire directory and/or all the contents of that particular
How does a journalling filesystem solve this potential problem? It's
pretty simple, really. The filesystem itself keeps a journal of changes.
In a multi-step process, the filesystem makes entries in the journal
regarding each change to the data and the meta-data. The first journal
entry looks to the future of the file - "I'm going to make this change" -
either to the data or meta-data. We'll call this the "future" entry. The
system then makes the change. The last entry in the journal is a look
back at the actions taken on the data - "This is the change I made." For
our purposes, this is the "history" entry. This is usually in the form of
a "completed" item to the original entry.
By using this system, all changes to data and meta-data on a system are
completely accounted for. If your system crashes at any point, the
journal will be queried at boot to discover what, if any filesystem
changes were in progress at the time of the crash. If a future entry
exists without its counterpart history entry, the change is made and the
journal is updated.
This all serves as a very effective and modern system for preserving the
integrity of your filesystems. In the past, checking these changes meant
a long and laborious look at each file in a particular directory or
partition, with no guarantee that the data could actually be recovered.
Usually, it meant the deletion of the inconsistent data. Scandisk in
Windows and fsck in Linux were the only real tools to check and correct
filesystem integrity in the event of a dirty shutdown. Journalling
filesystems go a long ways toward guaranteeing the integrity of your
data. And, since each change is recorded in both a pre- and post-change
fashion, rebooting after a dirty shutdown is much, much faster. Rather
than picking through the entire filesystem, file by file, scanning for
integrity errors, your system need only refer to the journal for any
changes that may have been lost. Data integrity and reboot time savings
are definitely important developments in the advancement of Linux.
Send This to a Friend


Gnu Phantom Home [265 K]
"GNU Phantom.Home is a computer controlled home automation system. The
software includes a circuit diagram for building the
Phantom.Home.Controller, a simple circuit board that attaches to your
PC's parallel port. Using the combination of hardware/software you can
control (i.e. flip on or off) nearly any 120V device. And with a little
bit of electronics know-how, you can probably control nearly any device
at any voltage by modifying the circuit board to meet your needs. The
simple circuit included can be created and built for around $25. The
modules cost around $10 (basically a heavy duty relay)."
Send This to a Friend


Scribbled by Preston Boyington
"I am sure by now that you have seen/heard of this story that ran in the
Washington Post on Saturday. It talks about the possibility of AOL
acquiring Redhat Linux.
"First let me say that in the mid-nineties I first tried the internet
using AOL software (they were the only game in town). Soon another
provider started servicing our area and I changed to their service.
"Alas, this was not the end of my AOL experience. After repeated calls
and emails I could not get them to stop deducting their service fee from
my checking account. Finally, after three months of repeated calls and
messages I had to close my checking account. Now, I admit this has a huge
bearing on my opinion of AOL (and their business), but experiences
determine our outlook and my feelings are that AOL will change Redhat to
something the community is not prepared to deal with.
"Am I overreacting? Possibly. Although, I wonder how such a deal would
affect RedHat and its' open source contributions. Would source code still
be available or would they change to another license that would 'protect'
their interests? Are we going to be bombarded with popup windows each
time we login? Forced to an AOLized GUI that inserts 'Try AOL' icons at
any given chance?
"I apologize for the 'rambling rant', but the news is just disturbing.
"I shudder to think that sometime soon we could hear Steve Case saying
'AOL _IS_ Linux!'"
Send This to a Friend

 GnomeCLICK is "a Linux 'hot' place," indeed. Focused on all things
Linux, LittleIgloo includes news, e-cards, tutorials, books, software,
and downloads. An interesting addition to this site is the Linux Museum.
The museum contains a humorous look at the many incarnations of Tux, as
well as useful summary information on Linux programs.
Send This to a Friend 
Your subscribed e-mail address is: [abogardus@xxxxxxxx] - To unsubscribe
or change your delivery address, please visit the subscription management
page. Use of the Gnome moniker by Penguin Shell does not imply
endorsement of the Gnome Desktop Environment. Penguin Shell is an
equal-opportunity desktop employer. For further information, please refer
to the GnomeCREDITS in the sidebar.


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