May 1, 2008

Ask Redistributing a distro, running non-native apps, and forum guidelines

Author: Staff

In addition to answering questions on the forums, in the past week we have been having some useful discussions as well. Here's a peek at some of them, along with a few forum guidelines you can follow to help keep the forums clean and get you speedier responses.

User userid605 joined the forums wondering if it is legal to redistribute Linux on his Web site. Forum member proopnarine asked him to clarify what exactly he wanted to redistribute, and suggested that if it wasn't his own distribution, he could just as well maintain a mirror. Since userid605 insisted on hosting popular Linux distros, user Ante joined the discussion wondering why he would "want to host several 700MB to 4.xxGB files from your server?" He advised following proopnarine's advice. Ante also raised a valid question regarding security, saying "you'd also need a lot of street cred for someone to download an OS from you."

When userid605 said he runs a general software freeware hosting site, proopnarine explained how providing freeware is different from hosting a distribution. "This [hosting a distro] is best guaranteed by the distribution developers themselves. You should simply link to those sites, or go through the proper process of contacting the developers and becoming a mirror site. Remember that the source is available for this software, and can therefore be altered for malicious or purely unfortunate purposes. I never download system software from a site that I don't know or cannot trust implicitly."

Ante further suggested other methods of supporting distros, such as writing reviews and seeding torrents. If you have other suggestions for userid605 to put his bandwidth to good use, please join the discussion.

Every now and then, the forums see questions from users who want to run non-native applications over Linux. User otrix was looking for success stories regarding Ableton Live, a music sequencer. Shashank Sharma suggested using one of the good free software alternatives, like Rosegarden or Ardour. If instead otrix was keen on running Ableton Live, Sharma pointed to Wine. Meanwhile, otrix's request for a success story was fulfilled when user alienprdkt reported success in running Ableton Live 6 with Wine on Kubuntu 8.04.

It is encouraging when users join in to report success. As a general courtesy to fellow readers, we advise people whose questions have been answered to post followup messages saying when the answers were helpful, or describing help they found elsewhere.

In the Programming and Development forum, user jeffelkins wanted to know if there's a way to write a bash script to remove one character from a file name, from right before the extension. "I need a bash script to loop through a directory and do a filename change on each item: specifically on each file remove the last character prior to the extension. i.e. file1a.txt becomes file1.txt". User linuxdynasty came up with a Python script to do the task.

Unanswered questions

A couple of forum questions still need answers. New user prodigygirl96 is working on Red Hat ES 4 and needs help installing Dmidecode. Having searched the Web, prodigygirl96 is confused about the correct package to install and is looking for instructions to help her do it.

In the Programming and Development forum, user Jimbo-jin is seeking help regarding creating and modifying several headers on HTTP response. Working with Apache 2.2.4 on Fedora 7, he found Apache's mod_headers module and managed to create his own headers. But he's unable to modify existing headers, nor can he unset others headers. If you have worked with the mod_headers module, Jimbo-jin is all ears.

Forum guidelines

  1. With participation on the forums on the rise, we've noticed some common mistakes users make when posting questions. As a service to your fellow forum participants, please consider the following guidelines when asking a question.
  2. Don't double- or cross-post on the forums. Post your question once in the forum you think will bring your question the exposure it deserves.
  3. Use clear language to describe your problem in the subject for the thread. Thread titles like "help me" or "newbie in trouble" give no indication of your problem.
  4. Provide as much information as you can when asking for advice or suggestions. Always mention the Linux distribution you're running, as sometimes different distributions have different means to get around a problem.
  5. When your question is hardware-related (such as networking or graphics) mention the exact make and model of the offending hardware device. It saves time to include as much information you can in the first post. Also, mention what you've done so far to try to solve the problem.
  6. When describing an error message, try to be as specific as possible. Post the exact error message if possible. A thread that says "can't boot into Linux, GRUB gives error" is not very helpful.
  7. Don't hijack other threads. If you have a question, post it as a separate thread so that your question gets the necessary eyeballs.
  8. Don't be shy about mentioning your newbie status. When viewing your thread, people will give you a detailed and structured response if you ask them to.
  9. Be polite and wait patiently for others to reply. Some users look at unanswered topics to help. If you post a "why are there so many views but no replies" message to your own thread, your thread is no longer listed as "unanswered." We promise people don't have a grudge against you, and they certainly won't hold out on you. Be patient -- someone will reply sooner or later. Being rude does not guarantee a speedier response.

To the forums

That's it for this week. Remember, if you have an answer for any of the unanswered questions pointed to above, or wish to participate in any discussion, click on the link to the relevant link and post there. And if you have your own question to ask, visit the forums and ask it there, not in the comments to this article. Your fellow forum readers will get you an answer faster.


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