June 28, 2008

Ask Linux.com: Specialty distros, startup scripts, and a whole new forum

Author: Linux.com Staff

In this week's junket through the latest and greatest from the Linux.com forums, we look at Linux distributions for security testing, gaming, and the visually impaired, writing your own startup scripts, and our new forum for job seekers.

Distro selection

The question "what Linux distribution should I use" comes up regularly in the forums, and the usual advice steers new users toward the popular, desktop-oriented offerings. But on occasion, a user has distinct enough needs that the typical distros aren't the best solution.

User reconsldr, for example, asked for advice on the best Linux distro for diagnostics and security testing. User Peter recommended BackTrack (which, coincidentally, we just reviewed). User madevan, on the other hand, asked for "a slim basic Linux" to host multiple VMware virtual machines. User Penguin recommended trying either Damn Small Linux or a minimal Debian installation.

Which isn't to say that the "big" distros don't fit specific use cases. Sora is a visually impaired user, and asked for advice on selecting the best Linux distro for accessibility. Radikll recommended Ubuntu. Finally, hexKid wants to set up a gaming machine, tuned for performance and Wine usage. Bob recommends Gentoo and Slackware for their speed and stability.

If you additional experience with any of those scenarios, please feel free to share it in the appropriate threads.

Scripting conundra and ceremonial rewards

On the post-installation side, user Raj asked his fellow forum readers for help debugging a homemade startup script. He copied the script to the appropriate locations for it to execute at startup in runlevels 3 and 5, but it wasn't getting executed at boot time as it should. Khabi wrote in with some advice on the differences between normal shell scripts and init scripts, which have their own requirements.

Novi posed another bash puzzler, asking how to parse a log file to count file downloads -- when there are multiple accesses per IP address per timestamp. Users linuxdynasty and Johannes Truschnigg each proposed a solution. What's yours?

New forum user Derek earns himself the title of poster of the week. He wrote in asking for help diagnosing his Fedora 9 installation's X problems, but -- more importantly -- he discovered the source of his trouble himself, and wrote back in to post the answer to his own question. That's the way to do it, Derek: future users with the same issues will be glad to find the question and the answer in one place.

It's always darkest just before the unanswered questions

Sure, your favorite shows are all in reruns, but you can still find meaning in life by tackling these unanswered questions.

First up, user jeffelkins is mired deep in an OpenSSH mystery. "I've been using passwordless SSH on my home network for ages. Suddenly, one particular system (Ubuntu 7.10) is suddenly requiring a password for incoming connections. From that machine, you can ssh without password to other machines on the network. I'm stymied. Where do I start looking to debug this problem?" Several have tried, but no one has found the answer yet.

Or if Linux kernel hacking is more your speed, arnab has the challenge you're looking for. He's trying to start two ITIMER_REAL timers and keep them separate -- but no matter what he tries, gettimer only returns the value from one of them. If you know what to do, the time is certainly now.

Just when you thought you were all forumed out: jobs!

Finally, this week we launched a new forum just for job seekers and those seeking job seekers. Rather than trudge around the other forums looking for one another, the two groups can now finally meet up in a dedicated forum space. If your job -- or the job you lack -- is FOSS-related, head on over.

For everyone else, take a peek at the forum guidelines, then dive right in to the question answering game.

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