Main Line Computer Users Group - Nov 1999 Issue 210

**** NOVEMBER 1999 ******************************** ISSUE #210 ****

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - NOV 13 th

JOIN US FOR MORE ABOUT Y2K!


THIS MONTH'S CONTENTS
MAIN LINE PC/128/64 USERS - Room 110

As you can see from the bottom of this page, when we convene on the 13th, there will be just 48 days left before THE DAY! So, we continue the theme started last meeting. But, first, we'll have our usual announcements and discussion. Then our Linux guru, Peter Whinnery, will have another Linux tip o' the month.

Then to Y2K. Elsewhere in this issue, we note what ground we covered in last month's meeting - primarily the hardware end of things (just computers, not toasters, etc.!). This time around it is software. Hopefully, each attendee will have some info, utilities and/or experiences to share, right?

[more Y2K ideas ...]

[continued]

MAIN LINE AMIGA USERS - Room 210

Our October meeting went much like the one the previous month. We continued with real time help for anyone willing to bring their Amiga. In addition we covered other topics including TurboPrint, IBrowse 2, Master ISO, creating a dosdriver for 2 Gig Jaz drive and adding an associated Jaz custom menu to DirOpus, and covered Amiga news sources.

Currently, November's agenda will be much the same. Additional odds and ends will be added before the meeting. I know we'll touch on the latest AWeb revision, and if Ted can find some docs for his system, we'll see about getting ShapeShifter working again for him without slowing his Amiga.

[continued]

LINUX GETS MORE ATTENTION

At last month's PC session, we successfully began our tutorial sessions on the Linux operating system. We expect to continue this for the next few meetings - augmented by material in the newsletter (see below for the first installment). Then depending on member interest, we can continue in more or less depth and emphasis for the future.

***************************
Getting Started with Linux - I

[extracts, by Peter Whinnery, mainly from Red Hat Linux information]

Getting the Right Documentation

And the first step you need to take is to get yourself some documentation! This cannot be stressed enough; without documentation you will only become frustrated at your inability to get your Linux system working the way you want.

Here's what you should look for in terms of Linux documentation:

* A brief history of Linux Many aspects of Linux are the way they are because of historical precedent. There is also a Linux culture that, again, is based to a great deal on past history. A bit of knowledge about the history of Linux will serve you well, particularly as you interact with more experienced Linux users on the Internet.

* An explanation of how Linux works While it's not necessary to delve into the most arcane aspects of the Linux kernel, it's a good idea to know something about how Linux is put together. This is particularly important if you've been working with other operating systems; some of the assumptions you hold about how computers work may not transfer from that operating system to Linux. A few paragraphs that discuss how Linux works (and particularly how it differs from the operating system you're used to), can be invaluable in getting off to a good start with your Linux system.

* An introductory command overview (with examples) This is probably the most important thing to look for in Linux documentation. The design philosophy behind Linux is that it's better to use many small commands connected together in different ways than it is to have a few large (and complex) commands that do the whole job themselves. Without some examples that illustrate the Linux approach to doing things, you will find yourself intimidated by the sheer number of commands available on your Linux system.

* An extensive list of available commands While you can find this sort of information on-line in the man pages, you might also want it in book form. While there are several such books on the market, Red Hat sells the Linux Complete Command Reference. This book contains the man page entries for hundreds of commands, system calls and file formats, all formatted for easy reading. Best of all, there is a comprehensive index, and a searchable version of the book on CD-ROM. A book like this is invaluable for:

* Task-oriented information Many times, you'll find that you'd like to configure your Linux system in a certain way, but you're not sure where to begin. In this case, it's often a big help to see what others in similar circumstances have done. This is where the Linux Documentation Project (also known as the LDP) can come in handy. Each of their HOWTOs document a particular aspect of Linux, from low-level kernel esoterica, to using Linux in an amateur radio station.

If you selected one of the various how-to packages when you installed Linux, you'll find the HOWTOs on your system in /usr/doc/HOWTO. If, on the other hand, you'd like a printed version of these documents, Software sells Linux Undercover, which is a compendium of the most popular LDP documents.

[Part 2 - next month]

########################################
ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
########################################

NEW MEMBER!!! - yes, it has actually happened! Thru the good offices of our treasurer, Stew Stewart, we have a new member - Bill Folger from Media PA. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a trend to reverse our downward slide in membership. Welcome, Bill - we hope you'll get much out of the club. I'm also sure that you'll have some experiences of value to provide to us - our group is meant to be a 2-way street...

RENEWAL TIME! - so, speaking of members - our renewal time for the year 2000 has arrived. I am pleased to report that during October, we had a total of ten (10) year 2000 members join/renew! Now, if we can do the same in November and December, we will have a solid kernel of members to move into next year!

As mentioned last month, we are holding the dues at the $15 level - as we have done for the last five or so years. With no postal increase in 2000 (they wouldn't dare!) and a, hopefully, predictable copy cost for the newsletter, we should be on a sound financial footing. Our treasury has (with the sales efforts of Charlie Curran) achieved our interim goal of a rainy day cushion - further validating our ability to hold the line on dues.

So, we hope that each and every one of you will renew. Please make our treasurer, Dewitt Stewart, happy by renewing promptly. The deadline for receipt of 2000 dues is December 31st. Send your $$$ (form is on page 10) and, if you have computer using friends - Amiga, 64/128 or PC - tell them about us.

COMMODORE PRODUCTS LIST - Roger Long has published the version #7 of his C= products & vendors listing. Available in print ($5) or disk ($3) from him at: 1815 97th St. S., Apt. V7, Tacoma WA 98444.

The disk version is available in both 1541 and 1581 formats. Each has plain text and Geowrite versions of the whole listing. I can provide either form at $3 per copy (plus mailing cost, if appropriate). Give me a call, leave a note on the BBS, or email me (emilv@ccil.org) to get a copy.


Y2K Update Tidbit

Date setting in Windows & DOS

As was reported in last month's issue, quite accidentally, we learned that Microsoft changed its strategy for handling 2-digit years in its DATE setting routine.

Previously, if you used the DATE command at the DOS prompt to set the PC clock to 2000 or beyond, you had to enter the new year with 4-digits. DOS would not accept 00 as 2000 - but it WOULD accept 99 as 1999. If you tried to continue using 2-digits, you would get an invalid entry error message.

We have now established that when Microsoft issued their YEAR 2000 updater for Windows 95, it was that updater which changed operation of the DATE command; so that DATE now accepts any 2-digit entry.

Specifically, MS is now using a "pivot year" for the 2-digit year entries for DATE. If you are using Windows, go to the true DOS prompt (by selecting START, then Shutdown, then Restart in MS-DOS mode). Use the DOS DATE command to enter the two digit years 00, 79, 80 and 99, checking the results of each entry by repeating the DATE command. If you have the new routine, you'll get dates of 2000, 2079, 1980 and 1999, respectively.

If you still have the older routine, then you know that you HAVE NOT updated your operating system for Y2K. Come to the November meeting, we'll talk about this Y2K item - and quite a few others!

Oh yes, remember that you can download the Windows 95 Y2K updater from the MLCUG BBS. Log on and go to the IBM Utilities file Library. Download the file titled: WIN95Y2K.exe - then run it and follow the prompts. It is quite straightforward and works for all versions of Win95.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
$ TRADING POST $
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

FOR SALE: the club still has a very large inventory of Commodore stuff - software, computers, disk drives, monitors, printers, etc. We have recently been getting a number of sales via the info posted on the MLCUG web page. But, those sales have just scratched the surface of our inventory!

So, if you are in need of replacements or augmentation, please contact Charles Curran - he has most of the stuff and the prices are VERY reasonable!!!

***************************
64/128/PC MEETING
***************************

The October PC/64/128 meeting had some 13 attendees (including our new member, Bill Folger). As in September, we had a very good info interchange amongst the attendees for about an hour. Then Peter Whinnery took over.

This, in contrast to last month's planned inaugural, was a successful starter. Pete was able to lead us thru his planned how to get started with Linux - using the re-install of Red Hat Linux 6.1 on the club's PC.

On page 2 of this issue is the first of several parts to a summary of the info that Pete plans to cover in these introductory session. The info is based primarily on the Red Hat install version of Linux, but applies generally to any install of this public domain operating system.

Check page 2 for the next couple of issues, come to the meetings and get some exposure. You should then be in a position to decide if you want to try the OS - for amusement, education or real work!

Our thanks to Pete for persevering - and we welcome his next presentation to start off the November meeting in room 110.


OUR Y2K MEETINGS

by Emil Volcheck

In our October meeting, we started a two part give-and-take on various aspects of the Y2K situation - as it relates to personal computers. And, especially, to those that are owned by MLCUG members.

After the usual announcements and Q & A and the first 'Linux moment', we tackled item a in the listing below. For November, we'll continue on item b, and hope to get thru the rest of the list. This will leave us some time at the December meeting to deal with lingering questions or problems that folks may have uncovered with their systems, BEFORE it is too late to respond!

  1. what kind of hardware do you have, what Y2K problems does it have & what preps have you implemented or plan to
  2. what OS do you use & what Y2K prep have you done (or need to do)
  3. what applications do you use, what Y2K problems do they have, what Y2K fixes have been made available, what Y2K fixes have you done
  4. in the light of the above, what Y2K problems do you have left & how do you plan to cope with them
Let's hope for lots of member input on this nearly fait accompli!!!

MAIN LINE AMIGA USER HAPPENINGS

by John Deker

Our October meeting went much like the one the previous month. We continued with real time help for anyone willing to bring their Amiga. In addition we covered other topics including TurboPrint, IBrowse 2, Master ISO, creating a dosdriver for 2 Gig Jaz drive and adding an associated Jaz custom menu to DirOpus, and covered Amiga news sources.

Currently, November's agenda will be much the same. Additional odds and ends will be added before the meeting. I know we'll touch on the latest AWeb revision, and if Ted can find some docs for his system, we'll see about getting ShapeShifter working again for him without slowing his Amiga. Other topics may include how to make your Amiga roll-over from DST to SDT, and some focus on OS3.5.

Remember, these meetings are what we make them. So bring your interests and your problems.

MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL TIME

Just a reminder, it is now time to renew your membership in the club. So, give some careful thought to what you want from your membership and what you have received this year from being a member. Hopefully you've found camaraderie, knowledge, and fun by being a member.

THE FUTURE OF OUR AMIGA SIG

During the past few months Amiga SIG attendance has been very light. As long as there are interested members we will continue to meet. However, I've considered holding future meetings at my home in Lafayette Hill. The plus side is that we get a phone line for BBS and Internet use. I also don't have to lug my equipment very far.

I'd like to know how other members of the SIG feel and think about this proposal.

MEETING QUICK TAKES...

TURBOPRINT HOTKEYS

Just a couple of notes here on TurboPrint. At September's meeting we were experiencing problems configuring hotkeys in Directory Opus on Ted's Amiga, but didn't know why. Between the September and October meetings I renewed my acquaintance with TurboPrint and discovered it has a half dozen or so configurable hot key functions. I also know that Ted uses TurboPrint, and reasoned that to be his problem. If one isn't careful and also uses Directory Opus or other system configurable software, one can easily discover they have some conflicting key presses. So this is just a little reminder to be familiar with the software you use and configure it with care. Otherwise you may be heading for frustration.

IBROWSE 2 - BETA SOFTWARE

The word on the Web and my experience says that the latest IBrowse 2 version smacks very much of being BETA software. Here are some of the known problems:

  1. Won't display some Web pages. The old version handles the same pages without problem.
  2. The intended improved printing doesn't work yet.
  3. Java script doesn't work as well as AWeb's.
  4. Stand alone SSL isn't available yet.
MASTER ISO & HARDWARE CAPABILITY

Master ISO from Asimware is CDROM burning software. The latest version 2.4 is available as an update download from the Asimware Web site. At the meeting, we demonstrated a music CDROM that had been copied using Master ISO.

We also discussed some of the more important system hardware requirements as it relates to being able to burn your own CDROMS successfully. Master ISO will test your hardware system before you burn your first CDROM. It is important that your hardware be relatively high performance to burn CDROMS.

2 GIG JAZ DRIVE

If you want to use the latest 250MB ZIP and 2GB JAZ drives from IOmega, you'll have to setup your own DOSDRIVERS in conjunction with JazTools.lha (available on Aminet) mentioned last month. Generally, you should use a DOSDRIVER configuration file for removeable media rather than using HDToolBox to create a RDB (Rigid Disk Block). Using HDToolBox helps gather some of the pertinent information for creating a DOSDRIVER file. Here's the PFS3 dosdriver configuration I setup recently for my 2GB JAZ drive:

/* $VER: JAZ0 40.2 (28.8.99)
 * Jaz file system entry
 * For 2GB Jaz cartridge.
 */

 FileSystem  = l:pfs3
 Flags       = 0
 Surfaces    = 1
 BlocksPerTrack  = 1512
 SectorsPerBlock = 1
 SectorSize  = 512
 Mask        = 0x7ffffffc
 MaxTransfer = 0x00fffe00
 Reserved    = 2
 Interleave  = 0
 LowCyl      = 2
 HighCyl     = 2588
 Buffers     = 256
 BufMemType  = 0
 StackSize   = 600
 Priority    = 10
 GlobVec     = -1
 DosType     = 0x50465303

/* The Device and Unit fields are controlled by tooltypes in the JAZ0 icon.
 *
 * Device = squirrelscsi.device
 * Unit   = 4
 */

I find the JAZ drive to be useful as a source feed for burning CDROMS.

GETTING AMIGA NEWS

A small part of our meeting was devoted to a discussion of Amiga news sources. The Internet is the winner in this case.

One of the best sources of timely filtered Amiga news is the CUCUG (The Champaign-Urbana Computer Users Group) organization Web site at http://www.cucug.org/amiga.html. This is one of the most reliable and active Amiga user groups around.

At http://www.ann.lu, you can join a mailing list. Almost everyday you'll receive several news briefs.

If raw gossip mixed with real news is more to your liking, Usenet is a great source of Amiga fact and fiction. Here are some of the news groups I frequently access:

There are several more dedicated Amiga news groups.

AROS & PHOENIX PROJECT NEWS

AROS

Speaking of news, there are a couple of Amiga projects that are worthy of mention and worth keeping an eye on. They are the AROS and PHOENIX projects.

Amiga by John Chandler

AROS - The Amiga Research Operating System

Continuing the 'theme' unintentionally started with UAE last month, I turn to a project mentioned in a previous article on open sourcing AmigaOS. I speak of AROS, the Amiga Research Operating System.

AROS has its origins in the aftermath of Commodore's demise. At the time, the situation looked bleak and no one was quite sure if the Amiga would be able to carry on or not. Some enterprising individuals took stock of the situation and evaluated what they could personally do to ensure the continuation of the Amiga line. This evaluation culminated in the decision to write an OS from scratch that would be both fully AmigaOS 3.1 compatible and portable to any hardware. Software compatibility comes in two flavours - binary compatibility for actual Amigas, and source level compatibility for other platforms. It has long been mentioned that UAE and other technologies could eventually be incorporated to provide binary compatibility between the whole range of AROS systems, but this is still a way off from being realized.

Progress has been slow, but impressive. For Linux and FreeBSD on the x86, AROS is mostly working and there are builds for Linux on 680X0 and native Amigas. The Amiga and 680X0 Linux flavours feature binary compatibility (a list of software which has been tested and known to work is published on the website), and all versions support fully-functional Intuition windows.

In addition, a standalone x86 version is in the works (thanks to the effort of Michael Schulz), which promises to be an ideal showcase of what AROS has achieved. The version currently boots into the Amiga's internal debugger, SAD, so doesn't support much in the way of software, but once the appropriate hardware drivers are implemented it will be a fully functioning AROS/Amiga platform running on standard PC compatible hardware. The same can be done for pretty much any other hardware out there - the only reason why other such ports haven't materialized is lack of support. If any developer out there fancies helping AROS port to such platforms as PowerPC (PowerUP and/or CHRP), there has never been a better time to get involved - AROS on G4 anyone?

Take a look at the screenshots on the AROS site to get the general idea (URL listed at the base of the article) or download the source and binaries for a real hands-on peek. (Unfortunately, the AROS FTP site is currently unavailable but should be up again shortly)

It's at this point that quite a few out there will state that it's about time AROS have begun to show some tangible work, after all they've been working on it for years. That's true to an extent, but remember writing a new OS isn't a trivial task, more so if you have to maintain compatibility with an existing OS. If you want to get it right first time, that means even more work and more time spent - it all adds up. But the most important reason for the delay is something a lot of people conveniently overlook: there aren't many people supporting AROS, and those that are can't dedicate themselves to it full-time - these people have their careers or education to think about.

AROS really does need your support. Even if you can't write a line of code to save your life, you can promote, test, document... every little bit adds up. If you can program, so much the better - even a single function contributed will take AROS one step closer to completion. Remember that this project is of benefit to the whole Amiga community because it helps broaden the scope of what is truly an Amiga, and it opens up fresh directions we can all make use of.

There has been much frustration, even anger from some, about the official direction Amiga is being taken, some of it based on confusion and poor communication, but most of it with some basis of truth. The immediate response from a few zealous users has been to launch themselves into a frenzy of activity building new projects to create their own next generation of Amiga. This work is admirable, and a true testament to the Amiga community but most are starting from scratch - with a blank slate and poor initial support. Worse, they seem completely in ignorance of AROS which has already been there, done it, and bought the t-shirt. Why reinvent the wheel and waste more time, effort and even money? *

Yet here is an almost complete AmigaOS clone built from scratch to be multi-platform just itching for support - every new AmigaOS replacement project takes away that potential support, and in the end you just fragment and dilute all the effort going on, probably to a point where nothing is ultimately achieved except a series of half-finished ideas. If AROS can get this far with little support, it makes you wonder how much further down the road it could be with the right backing - doesn't it?

Links:
AROS website: http://www.aros.org/

(* I exclude Phoenix from this because they do look like a worthwhile project, have considerable backing and their focus doesn't appear to exclude partnerships with AROS or any worthwhile aspects of the official Amiga. I hope to cover Phoenix in a future article).

Many thanks to Stefan, Aaron and the rest of the AROS team for their support and enthusiasm while I prepared this article.

Author - John Chandler

Published October 2, 1999
Copyright © 1996-1999 Suite101.com, Inc., All rights reserved.

http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/amiga/26509

PHOENIX

URL : http://owlnet.net/phoenix/Pages/about.htm

Title: About Phoenix

Who Are We, Really?

Phoenix originally was a few guys skulking around, wondering what could be done about Gate-Amiga Inc, who was unilaterally ignoring Amiga developers and seemed to have absolutely no interest in the desktop. We knew that convergence without a desktop platform was a hollow victory for Amigans indeed.

Then, a few more joined in, also convinced that a developer organization should if possible take a more active interest in products and marketplace, and not depend on a parent company to provide impetus and practical focus. We saw bad-faith business practices at the top, and were also very interested in QNX's eight months of work to make Neutrino a modern Amiga-like experience in usage.

Still later, as an underground movement, planning, biding our time, we were working with some of our earliest Amigans, to build what we needed to have a chance of surviving in the fractured landscape. Then, when we saw that Gate-Amiga Inc was in the process of shattering the dreams of the community, we decided we had better make ourselves known so as to diffuse the impact - though we still were not fully organized and planning had really only begun.

And now, here we are today. A multimedia OS and some migration products are on the horizon. Stay tuned...

Material Copyright © 1999 Phoenix Platform Consortium

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FUTURE MEETINGS

If you have either software or hardware for your Amiga that has taken your fancy, please bring it to our attention. I'm sure your specific interests will be of interest to others. Let me know if this is the case at the next meeting, or leave me email on our BBS. Remember, a user group is only as rewarding as the sum of the efforts of its individual members.

DIRECTIONS FOR ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER MEETING ROOMS

Meetings are in the St. Augustine Center at Villanova University.  The 8-bit
and PC sessions will be in Room 110 and the AMIGA meeting in Room 210.


Enter from the ITHAN AVENUE main gate, then proceed to the 2-level parking
building adjacent to St. Augustine, on the Ithan Avenue side.

NOTE: maps on our webpage - http://astro4.ast.vill.edu/mlcug/index.html
64/128/PC/Amiga Meetings  1999-2000  Steering Committee Meetings

                      November 13 *                     November 17
                      December 11 *                     December 15
                      January 8 *                       January 19

     * = second Saturday     ** = second Wednesday
**********************************************************
 EDITOR: Emil J. Volcheck, Jr.   1046 General Allen Lane   West Chester, PA
19382-8030
(Produced with C-128D/SCPU 128, RAMlink, HD-40/85, 1571, FD-4000, THE WRITE
STUFF 128, XETEC Super Grafix, Canon BJ-200ex, Swiftlink and Motorola 288
modem)
           MLCUG BBS: 610-828-1359 (300 > 33600 bps), 24 hr/day
                 WWW: http://astro4.ast.vill.edu/mlcug/index.htm
           PUBLICITY: Robyn Josephs 610-565-4058
         DISK ORDERS: Charlie Curran 610-446-5239
   VILLANOVA SPONSOR: Prof. Frank Maloney, Dept. of Astronomy

MLCUG STEERING COMMITTEE:

PRESIDENT: Emil Volcheck 610-388-1581 SECRETARY: Charles Curran 610-446-5239 TREAS./MEMBERS:Dewitt Stewart 610-623-5145 AMIGA SIG/SYSOP: John Deker 610-828-7897 INTERNET/Linux:Peter Whinnery 610-284-5234 DATABASE: Layton Fireng 610-688-2080 AT LARGE: Tom Johnson 610-525-3440