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The Mailbag

HELP WANTED : Article Ideas
Submit comments about articles, or articles themselves (after reading our guidelines) to The Editors of Linux Gazette, and technical answers and tips about Linux to The Answer Gang.

GTK in Mandrake, Theme change?

Fri Nov 26 02:43:41 PST 2004
Jimmy O'Regan (The LG Answer Gang)

Mandrake sucks. I get a mess of warnings any time I start a Gtk app because of the weird stuff they've done with their theme.

[Heather] I can give you my DarkGems gtk theme, would you like it? I carefully mucked with it till it looked good on gimp and some other gtk apps that eluded correct behavior under some themes.

I have plenty of themes, it's that Mandrake is set up to look for their own theme, and I can't get it to stop. My GTK package is libgtk+-x11-2.0_0-2.5.2-0.1gpw.

[Heather] ohhh. I might be able to help you with that sometime. If we do, then we can make a nice tip out of it.
Or if one of you readers knows the right answer, we'll cheerfully pub what you send us after Jimmy improves his life with GTK :) -- Heather

I think it's compiled in.

I've been through the fscking mess of a config layout they have several times and can't get it to stop looking for that bloody theme.

[Heather] You cant just move their theme to another name and copy your theme into the name it's reaching for? </hack type=cheap>

No. :(

I'm waiting for my Ubuntu cds to arrive :)

problem in sendmail.cf

Thu, 17 Jun 2004 11:20:38 +0530
vignesh (vignesh.raj from samsung.com)


I have seen ur page for the sendmail configuaration and goes fine ,

And i have tried to configure the sendmail as u said , but i have some problem regarding the configuration .

Iam trying to configure it as SMTP AUTH client for the mailserver,But its giving error msg as DNS:service unavailable , i don't understand what is missing in the configuration.and one more things is its not alaising the username to the mailid .

can u pls help me regarding in this

warm regards


Re: Setting the Clock on Linux in issue 108

Thu, 18 Nov 2004 22:11:55 -0500
Suramya Tomar (security from suramya.com)
Reply by William Park

Hi, Firstly I would like to congratulate you on a nicely written article. I found it very useful.

In addition to the ways you have pointed out in your article there is another method we can use to sync linux clocks to a central server. I am talking about using rdate (http://freshmeat.net/projects/rdate).

On the website:

"The rdate utility retrieves the date and time from another machine on your network, using the protocol described in RFC 868. If you run rdate as root, it will set your machine's local time to the time of the machine that you queried."

I use the following command to sync my computers clock every day:

/usr/sbin/rdate -s tick.greyware.com

Thought I should share this with you.


'rdate' is just another program using port 37 (Time protocol) which is what RFC-868 is about. I think 'netdate' is more prevalent. In fact, you can use shell script, because the server returns number of second since Jan 1, 1900, in 32-bit number. So:
    sec=`nc time.nist.gov 37 | od -A n -t xC | tr -d ' '`
    date --date="1970-1-1 0:0:$((0x$sec - 2208988800)) GMT"
where 2208988800 is to make it relative to Jan 1, 1970.
I find that there could be an extra 32-bit number for microseconds. So, if you change the script to:
    set -- `nc time.nist.gov 37 | od -An -txC`
    date -u --set="1970-01-01 0:0:$((0x$1$2$3$4 - 2208988800))"
you will use only the seconds.
You are encouraged to use UDP side of things. The shell script has no choice but to use TCP, because knowing when to exit 'nc' is a hassle.

I hate to disagree...

Thu, 18 Nov 2004 15:36:44 -0500
Brendan (endosquid from endosquid.com)
Ok, I admit it. http://linuxgazette.net/108/lg_mail.html has a serious glitch... -- Heather


"[sic] folks. Debian's actual command (to do mass upgrades without breaking holds or allowing package removals for apps that changed drastically) is: apt-get upgrade dist -- Heather"

The command is:

apt-get dist-upgrade

I know, because I do it everyday.

I did attempt to correct a typo. I replaced it with a worse one. It was late, and my vim went one way, my hand another. At least as far as I can tell. Either that or I was on some amazing grade of sleep deprivation. -- Heather
[Kapil] You should avoid doing this for more reasons than one!
1. Since there are only three versions of Debian at any given time you will reach the top of the charts in exactly two days! Once you already run "unstable" (or "testing" for that matter), running:
apt-get update; apt-get upgrade
should do the trick.
I do have to say, that 'upgrade' will not help you if they drastically rearrange a package. And, if you do it habitually you may not notice that. I don't recommend upgrades where you don't pay attention to such details.
The package that came to mind a long while back was vim. With merely 'upgrade' Debian would have been glad to leave me in its older style of package splits. If only it could be told to offer the same care when a package changes its config files under the hood. -- Heather
2. There is more to life than keeping up with the Joneses...
[Jimmy] Yeah, of course. There's keeping up with the Smitheseseses.[1]
[1] Why yes, I am quite drunk. Why do you ask? :)

The real way in which I was wrong is that neither 'upgrade' nor 'dist-upgrade' keywords break holds, and I claimed that the latter does. D'oh!

If you're gonna throw tomatoes, let's try to completely dunk the target, shall we?

/me enjoys another big glass of tomato juice...

Linux Master Boot Record

Fri, 19 Nov 2004 11:23:37 -0800 (PST)
Didi (didi from dancephotos.ch)

Ciao Ben,

thank you for the the description of

"dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda bs=512 count=1"

it almost saved my life.

[Ben] Ciao, Didi -
Glad you found it helpful! I appreciate your note... even though it was sent to a very old (and nearly unread) address of mine and thus took a long time to come to light.
(Didi's comment refers to my "Clearing out the Master Boot Record" article back in LG#63, which many people have found helpful over time; I keep receiving grateful comments on it even now, years later. It's very gratifying to know that I've been able to help so many folks with it. The reason I'm making this reply a public one is for the new readers of LG who may not be aware of this useful technique; the article can be found at http://linuxgazette.net/issue63/okopnik.html .)

Perl One-Liner of the Month

Sat, 06 Nov 2004 08:11:03 +0000
Hans Wennborg (hawe from bigfoot.com)
Reply by Jimmy O'Regan

Thanks for a good e-zine!

Thanks for reading it.

Just wanted to tell you that I miss Ben Okopnik's Perl One-Liner of the Month imensely! Those articles were what made me start loving Perl.

Will they return?

Well, that's up to Ben, but we did have a mini 1LotM in the Linux Laundrette: http://linuxgazette.net/108/lg_laundrette.html#laundrette.moreandmore

Woomert and Frink only get a brief cameo, but the one-liners are there.

[Ben] Hi, Hans -
Thanks for the compliment! For the moment, I've written Woomert and Frink into a blind alley; I think I need to put that particular story aside, to be revised at another time (I mean, what kind of a Perl one-liner can save an alien civilization, and from what threat??? Those guys get themselves into the craziest predicaments...) and write another one, not quite that deep.
POLOTM isn't dead, just resting... but it's notes like yours that can get me motivated to start it rolling again. Look for Woomert and Frink in the future issues of LG. :)

thanks for -Great- article

Sat, 6 Nov 2004 08:13:08 -0500
BellyOfTheBeast (swroomjnu from admin.state.ak.us)
Reply by Ben Okopnik

Ben O's review of the Averatec laptop is exactly what I'd like to see more of. It is accurate about the important things and gets right to the point. Far and away the best laptop review I've even seen. Thanks very much; I look forward to reading others as they become available.


Thanks, BA - reader's compliments make for great author motivation. The laptop reviews will continue happening (although I may skip a month in between), and will only terminate on EXIT_SUCCESS - or factors beyond my control. I definitely need a backup laptop, and will be "processing" more of them.


LG 97 typo

Tue, 23 Dec 2003 14:07:36 +0000
Francis Daly (francis from daoine.org)

Hi there,

(I got this address from http://linuxgazette.net/authors/okopnik.html)

I enjoyed your article in the recent LG issue -- thanks. There appears to be a minor typo in:


which is propogated to the content at:


A patch below fixes it.

All the best,

See attached mirrors.diff.txt

Stephen Bint.......for Gianfranco..and with thanks to his friends.

Thu, 4 Nov 2004 22:25:30 -0500
Ann Morgan (ann_morgan from iinet.net.au)
[This is in response to an item in issue 101]


I came across your question about Stephen quite by accident, and thought that, although there has been a response, I would take a moment to post a personal reply.

We do not actually know the date of Stephen's death...........February 27th was the day on which he was found by a farmer on Exmoor. The ensuing inquest concluded that it was 'Death by misadventure'...Hypothermia being the cause. Thank you for caring enough to question his whereabouts............I know many people will miss him and mourn his death.

He was my son.


Ann Morgan


'That man is a success who lived well, laughed often and loved much: who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children: who has filled his niche and accomplished his task: who leaves the world a better place than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem or a rescued soul; who never lacked appreciation of earth's beauty or failed to express it; who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.'

-- Robert Louis Stevenson.


Thank you, Ann. Stephen was a man who held to his principles, and we can only respect him for that.
Readers, think kindly of your family this season, even those you don't deal well with or haven't seen in years. Look for the finer qualities in people around you. The winter may be cold - but don't forget to care.

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Copyright © 2004, . Released under the Open Publication license unless otherwise noted in the body of the article. Linux Gazette is not produced, sponsored, or endorsed by its prior host, SSC, Inc.

Published in Issue 109 of Linux Gazette, December 2004

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