SLUG Pearls #5 For 2 Jul 2000

By Jeff Waugh

Check out the Sydney Linux User Group ( !

Table Of Contents


Another KC SLUG Pearls ripe for the pickings! - Jeff

Announcements & Information

1. Slug Efficiency Test #57

25 Jun 2000 - 26 Jun 2000 (7 posts) Archive Link: "recursive %20 to space"

People: Alex SJames WilkinsonAngus Lees

Starting yet another round of "How Clean Is My Shell Script", Alex S wondered that, after ftp'ing from a Windows box, "if there is an easy way /script to make all the names back to normal, ie my folder instead of my%20folder" . Some very "unleet" recommendations for more useful ways of copying were put forward, but these soon gave way to the good stuff!

James Wilkinson offered, "find /dosdir -name '*%20*' -exec mv {} `echo {} | sed '/slug-pearls/s/\%20/_/index.html'` \;" and one which would process a single directory at a time. He commented:

I like the first method, but i'm sure someone can find a quicker/shorter command (/me thows down the gauntlet ;)

Rathnor gave a multiline script, then tried putting it all on one line, "for a one line shell command (Hi Gus)" , tipping his hat to one of our resident shell-meisters, Gus Lees.

(ed. [] Surely this technique should be grounds for instant diqualification!)

Of course, Gus did give some solutions. The first, after a quick correction:

find /dosdir -print |sed 'h;s/%20/ /g;s/%40/@/g;t c;d;:c x;p;g' |xargs -n2 mv

and his Perl solution (yes folks, two lines for clarity):

find /dosdir -print | \
perl -ne 'chop;$a=$_;rename $a,$_ if s/%(\d\d)/chr hex $1/ge'

2. Tools for Documentation

26 Jun 2000 - 28 Jun 2000 (29 posts) Archive Link: "Tools for documentation."

People: Jeff WaughMichael LakeJamie Honan

Rodos set off some latent quibbles between users of TeX and DocBook with this ( post, playing the two off each other to find a documentation standard that suited him. His main requirement was "something that is open, and will not cause version problems in 10 years time (will Word 2010 read Word6 documents?)" .

Jeff Waugh posted a summary ( of DocBook's features and strengths, leaving us with:

If you're writing technical documentation now, DocBook is the way to go. Flamers, come prepared! Oh, and a quick haiku I posted to ldp:

confusing for some writers
call it XML

Along with a rundown ( of LaTeX and noweb, Michael Lake posted a quick rebuttal ( , quite rightly asking for more information from Rodos:

So we need to find out what Rodos wants to document (then can we have a DocBook/LaTeX flame war?).

Rodos provided further information ( about his own situation, also putting forward a different scenario - the common problem of documenting Open Source software - just for the challenge.

Again, Mike and Jeff's views differed wildly. Mike offered both LaTeX and noweb (a literate programming tool) as solutions to both, explaining the powers of noweb in a programming situation:

In LaTeX you write the man pages and README (don't forget to include the GNU copyleft file) and noweb will extract them as separate files for a distribution with the code and HTML docs.

He also gave a comparison ( of the markup, showing much shorter LaTeX source for similar documents.

Interesting DocBook links that surfaced during the discussions included:

Finally, Jamie Honan noted the importance of substance over style and the need to concentrate on what you're writing, not its format.

3. From Outlook to Netscape Mailboxes

26 Jun 2000 - 27 Jun 2000 (21 posts) Archive Link: "MS Outlook to Netscape mail conversion"

People: Jeffrey BorgGraeme Merral

Graeme Merrall, whilst using Linux as his primary OS, had heaps of old email stuck in good old proprietary Outlook format and wondered if it was possible to convert it all to Netscape compatible mailboxes (mbox format). This a great hurdle when moving to another OS, and now that email is such an important part of our computer use, it's a widespread problem.

Jeffrey Borg posted a popular solution to this, using an imap server ( to make the transition.

There was a bit of random discussion about large mail files, and using Maildirs with Pine

4. Statisticians Should Be Shot

26 Jun 2000 - 29 Jun 2000 (18 posts) Archive Link: "Hi posters."

People: Matt AllenMichael LakeAndrew MacksPeter SamuelHoward LowndesCharlie BradyRachel PolanskisKen YapAnthony RumbleTerry Collins

Thus spake Rodos:

I like meaningless stats, and was inspired by the size of my SLUG archive and the top posters section of the SLUG Pearls.

So here it is, the top posters to SLUG based on where my archived goes back to which is Thu, 16 Jul 1998 07:50:33 PDT

Rank #MSG Name
---- ---- ------------------
   1 1392 Ken Yap
   2 1138 Terry Collins
   3  641 Charlie Brady
   4  605 DaZZa
   5  480 Howard Lowndes
   6  411 Anthony Rumble
   7  347 Rachel Polanskis
   8  299 Grant Parnell
   9  293 Michael Lake
  10  272 Peter Samuel

There was much rationalisation (for SLUGgers who felt they should have been represented more) and celebration (for SLUGgers surprised at their positions).

A couple of the less-couth committee members had a light-hearted public flame, inspiring the idea of a Draconian SLUG Scoring System. Matt Allen dreamt of a "script that automatically judged an email on Quality of Answer ....." Rodos had a plan:

Thats easy. Some huristics on the amount of new text added. How much of the previous mail was cropped (people who don't crop by default write crap IMHO <grin>), how many followups the message gets. Then some keyword matches. If you use the words NT and sucks within 5 words you get more points. If you use the words Linux and rules you get lots of points. If you write a haiku then you get heaps of points! If you use the words RedHat and desktop you loose points.

I will go away now.

It was quickly suggested that both misspelling "lose" and correcting spelling and grammar were ripe for losing points. As if the thread weren't silly enough, Andrew Macks complained that changing his email name from "?" to "Moo!" and finally to "Andrew Macks" affected his standing.

This being the Sydney Linux User Group, there's always something in the water!

5. Newbie Quickies

26 Jun 2000 - 27 Jun 2000 (13 posts) Archive Link: "Simple Newbie Questions"

People: Terry Collins

Getting used to both the Linux way of doing things, and the Right Way of doing things is often hard when you're starting out. There's also a few simple differences between apllications. Matt had a whole bunch of questions, so we'll summarise them, and go through the solutions one by one:

  1. How do I start system things at startup?

    Terry Collins suggested putting simple things at the end of "rc.local" for a RedHat system.

  2. Where's the best place for my own utility script?

    Rodos recommended using /usr/local/bin.

    (ed. [] One could always make a $HOME/bin directory and put it in your path. This is - to my knowledge - universally accepted.)

  3. How do you make a "script" a "program"?

    Rodos suggested making "the first line #!/bin/sh or whatever shell you want to use to execute your script"

  4. How do you open a link in a new window in Netscape?

    Just about everyone in the thread mentioned that the middle button did the same thing in Netscape, and that if Matt had a two button mouse, he could use the Emulate3Buttons feature.

6. Slug Efficiency Test #58

28 Jun 2000 - 29 Jun 2000 (27 posts) Archive Link: "search and replace"

People: Dean HamsteadHerbert Xu

Need a Smart Shell Script? Want it Short and Sweet? Ask SLUG! Fellow SLUGger, Dean Hamstead did:

Is there a command in vi or somesuch standard cli editor to search and replace in my case change all ".org" entries to ".com" in the dns files im sure awk or seomthing can do it also....

many thanks to those who reply, may you rank highly in the top posters next time

The only unargued solution was (unsurprisingly) Herbert Xu's:

sed 's/\.org\(\.\)\?\([[:blank:]]\|$\)/.com\1\2/g'

I am assuming of course that you are doing this to DNS zone files. Otherwise change [[:blank:]] to whatever separator that you're using.

The thread wandered, delving into such subjects as DNS serial numbers ( , haiku ( (definitely a theme for the week), and regexp extensions ( .

7. Uptime Thread With Too Much Uptime

29 Jun 2000 - 30 Jun 2000 (52 posts) Archive Link: "uptimes"

People: George VieiraPeter SamuelAlexander ElseAndrew MacksRachel PolanskisTerry CollinsDanny Yee

While claiming that she didn't start the thread, but merely happened to see that her print queue machine had a longer uptime than most of the others noted in last week's thread, Rachel Polanskis managed to incite a small riot. A bitter George Vieira:

Oh please, I can play this game too..

[blah@blahblah]$ uptime
11:53am up 723487254534 days, 14:44, 1 user, load average: -3.00, -23.00, -400.00

Peter Samuel: "Wimp. That's only half the age of the planet. Where are the figures for the first 2 billion years :)"

George Vieira: "Linux didn't compile properly.. it didn't handle the E+94783 at the end of the counter..."

Alexander Else just had to top Rachel's time:

I know of a bsdi2.0.1 box with an uptime of over 1670 days. its services have long since been decomissioned and it's sole responsibility is to function in a staff morale capacity.

Andrew Macks felt there was a pattern emerging, "Alright alright, now which of you are running from a residential location without power backup? :) Give my 260 days a break :P"

After hearing of Danny Yee's web server (reported in a previous SLUG Pearls), Terry Collins threatened to pull down his server and install a 486SX20 with 8Mb RAM.

8. You Can't Diss The 'Hat

1 Jul 2000 - 2 Jul 2000 (16 posts) Archive Link: "Red Hat slagging"

People: Jamie HonanDavid SaintyKevin WatersonAndrew MacksAngus LeesSimon RumbleDanny Yee

Jamie Honan posted his response to the now-trendy attitude that RedHat have become too similar to Microsoft. He heartily disagreed, and laid his points out as follows:

Red Hat is in no way comparable to MSoft.

Red Hat distributions may have some strange installation quirks, may have bugs, (largely due to legacy problems, I suspect), the company may be well funded and seemingly successful, but thats where the comparison ends.

Red Hat funds a lot of development for Linux kernel and applications, and the results are all GPLed. Red Hat participates in standards processes.

Red Hat plays fair as a competitor. They may have problems with distribution of their products and other glitches, but it beggars belief to compare this to MS.

There may be individuals you don't like, but this is a different thing.

Red Hats' involvement with Linux has been and will continue to be a positive thing. I am glad Red Hat is a commercial success, this success is a good thing for Linux.

There are other distributions with superior features, it is better for everyone to let these facts speak for themselves.


There was agreement almost all around. David Sainty gave his reasoning ( and commented, "I'm sick of people saying Red Hat is like Microsoft. Look at the facts." Kevin Waterson asked, "Where does it say in the GPL that thou shall not make a wad of cash?"

Andrew Macks felt that RedHat don't put money back into the community sensibly, rather "throwing [it] around at people who don't really care about money or can not use it to benefit their projects."

Danny Yee and Kevin Waterson used Gnome and the Linux kernel as examples of where RedHat certainly do give back to the community. Simon Rumble mentioned that he, whilst not even using their distribution, used some RedHat-developed applications.

Marty, who Jamie quoted at the beginning of his post without attribution, responded to the reactions, saying, "the quote was then taken completely out of context which allowed everyone apply their own interpretations and assume the comment refers to Red Hat's corporate practices, scene contributions, ethics, <add your issue here> etc."

(ed. [] It was fairly clear that Jamie used the quote more as an example of the attitude against RedHat, than as a response purely to Marty)

Kevin Waterson posted an article on his site ( covering this topic further, whilst Angus Lees posted his perspective ( on the argument, rather different from the rest of the thread. There was no reply.

9. The Real Vi vs. Emacs

2 Jul 2000 (1 post) Archive Link: "rms on vi and emacs"

People: Anand Kumria

RMS is currently at LinuxTag Germany. One of the Stormix developers manning the stall, Peter Lypkie, recalls this question:

Q: Is using vi a sin in the church of emacs?

RMS: no, not a sin, but is _is_ a penance!

Gag posted by Anand Kumria.







Sharon And Joy

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