September 13, 2008

Ask Linux.com: document wrangling, lighter distros, and Boot Loops II

Author: Linux.com Staff

[In memory of Don LaFontaine, please read the following paragraph in as gravelly a voice as you can muster - ed.] In a world where anyone can ask, but few can respond ... they compress standard-out on the fly, impose order on your personal document chaos, and ponder who is the slimmest distro of them all. Plus, an old favorite from a previous week's column returns -- with a vengence. So microwave some popcorn and unplug the phone, because it's time for more tales from the Linux.com forums.

Gzipping stdout FTW

Scrabble players may angrily reach for their dictionaries at that phrase, but here in the Linux and Unix-like world, new forum reader mitch had a good question: "Does anyone know how I can use gzip to zip a large log file on the fly? My simulation is currently logging a large file that I need for analysis at a later point. However the files are so huge that I may even run out of disk space. The content is mainly text so when compressed the files are smaller... I would like to gzip on the fly without having to dump it to a file and then create the archive."

Mitch provided the details of his current process, which captures all output from his simulation to a flat file, then compresses it after the fact. Forum regular tophandcwby provided an answer, linking together the standard out of the simluation to gzip with pipes.

TMI

In the Applications forum, PerlCoder asked for advice managing a large collection of locally-stored documents -- mostly articles, some of electronic origin and some scanned.

Khabi and Shashank Sharma both offered suggestions. Khabi recommended tagsfs, a FUSE-based filesystem that works by assigning mutliple tags to each file, and stores the result in an SQLite database.

Sharma added a vote for another tag-based solution, the Leaftag library. He also referred PerlCoder to a comparative review of two cataloging applications, ScrapBook and BasKet.

Slim pickins

The Distributions forum regularly sees questions about how to pick a distro that meets every software requirement the user throws at it. JWarren turned the problem upside down this week, asking instead for advice on how to find a distro that includes the least.

"I have been looking for a while for a OS only distribution ... Some of the distributions are nice, with really nice additional packages, like OpenOffice, installed with the OS. What I really want to find is a distro with no other apps included."

In response, Waxon linked to a distro-comparison site. Rokytnji recommended Ubuntu Minimal, raluxs suggested Mandriva "mini," and Khabi put in a word for Gentoo. Maybe less really is more.

If it ain't broke ...

A recurring question in the New to Linux forum provided a useful tidbit this week.

Carmen.smith1 asked what the best antivirus solution was for Linux. The traditional answer is that Linux does not need anti-virus protection. Although that is accurate for Linux itself, Waxon correctly pointed out that if you exchange files with Windows users, you may still want to scan files to make sure that you don't forward a virus from one Windows system to another. He reccomended Avast and AVG.

Boot Loop 2: Electric Boogaloo

Back in August, resident forum heavyweight proopnarine posted and subsequently answered a question of his own about fixing an Asus Eee PC that was stuck in a boot loop.

The thread came back to life recently when new user polyvitamene wrote in with almost the exact same problem: an Eee PC that becomes stuck in a reboot cycle following a software update. Proopnarine tracked the problem down: it only happens on machines altered to use the "full" Xandros desktop instead of the default slimmed-down Eee interface. Although the Eee system is based on Xandros, small incompatibilities between the Eee and standard distros make installing updates a major risk for crashes and lock-ups.

Unanswered questions wish you were here

Jonesing for your unanswered questions fix? Well, grab on to something solid, because we've given unanswered questions a well-earned week off. But don't get hysterical, they'll be back before you know it. Until then, the next best thing you can do is head on over to the forums and look for unanswered questions of your own.

Remember to brush up on the forum guidelines first, and to post questions and answers in the appropriate forum thread, not in the comments section below. Bon voyage!

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