Gilbert Detillieux announced a couple offers that have been made to the SIG, from companies providing products for the Linux market. SSC, publishers of the Linux Journal, are selling the LUG/nut CD to user groups only for a mere $6US per copy (minimum order of 5). MUUG has placed an order for 5 copies of the August edition, which we will make available to our members (we'll keep some copies for loaning out, but will be able to sell 2 or 3 copies). When future editions are announced, we'll let members know, so that you can place your order through us.
Also, Yggdrasil will be providing the Linux SIG with one free copy of each of their main products (Plug & Play Linux, The Linux Bible, and Linux Internet Archives). We will circulate them at meetings, once we receive them, and will likely add these to our ``lending library'' as well.
After the break, Gilbert presented ``Stupid Sound Tricks.'' This was a simple demo of a sound driver for Linux, which is software compatible with the driver for sound cards (like the Sound Blaster), but which can use the built-in PC speaker, or use a number of simple 8-bit D/A convertors that plug into the parallel port (schematics and parts lists are included in a document in the driver's archive).
As you might have guessed, the sound quality from the built-in speaker is pretty poor, but with a reasonable D/A convertor and appropriate amplifier, you can get acceptable sound via the parallel port (similar to the quality of an 8-bit sound card). It's an interesting option for systems (e.g. laptops) where a sound card may not be available. The driver is available via FTP.
Linux specific topics included the current status of Slackware and various commercial distributions (such as Red Hat), discussion about ELF binary format and why it's a good thing, and reports of strange problems with various releases of the Linux 1.3 kernel.
Also, the new SIG coordinator, Doug Jackson, was introduced at this meeting. Doug will begin chairing the SIG meetings starting in November.
Installation was fairly easy, but was rather slow. Also, when doing only a minimal installation, symbolic links are set up to a "live" file system on the CD-ROM, so that you can access all of the software that hasn't been loaded onto your disk yet. This turns out to be necessary, in order to run the control-panel utility (X Window based), so that you can then select the packages you want loaded. The utility is very nice, and easy to use, but working off the CD-ROM in this way is terribly slow!
We hope you enjoy the holidays, and we wish you all the best in the new year!
The demo made use of the pppd and chat programs that come with many Linux distributions, and also diald, a dial-on-demand daemon that lets you automate bringing the network link up or down, based on network traffic. In addition, a couple monitoring tools for diald, called diald-top and pppmon, were also shown. Most of the presentation concentrated on the various scripts and configuration files that need to be set up to get all of this working and tuned right. (The software described is available from MUUG's own FTP server, or directly from sunsite.)
There was also a presentation by Guy Dreger and Doug Jackson (put together on short notice... Thanks Doug!) on how to install and configure a web server, specifically NCSA httpd 1.3R (which is known to be stable under Linux). A few people were already familiar with this server, but it sparked some interesting discussion while going through the configuration details. We used a ``ground zero'' approach, starting with where to find the software, how to compile it, where to install it, etc. The whole process only took about 30 minutes.
Postgres was a student's research project, and is not a full commercial product with nice front-end tools. It also uses a non-standard, but SQL-like query language. But it is a full relational database, it's free, and some interesting tools are being developed for it.
TeX is the older of the two projects, and in fact a TeX distribution (the Linux T series) was one of the earlier packages available for use with Linux (it is remarkable in itself that after a dozen years TeX remains the premier typesetting engine for mathematics). Different packages available for use with TeX have been evolving to address some of its deficiencies (which we'll talk about), and now Linux users are contributing to the TeX world. The talk focussed on a relatively new release, teTeX by Thomas Essers, which was designed to run under Linux, but is now spreading to other UNIX platforms.
The teTeX distribution is available from its maintainer's ftp site. A selected subset of those files, i.e. the one's that Michael used for the installation under linux, are available locally. Several sample files that Michael used, a teTeX FAQ, and installation instructions are also available here.