Main Line Computer Users Group - Feb 2000 Issue 213

**** FEBRUARY 2000 ******************************** ISSUE #213 ****

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER

MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - FEB 12 th

Might Programming be your bag ?


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

As in recent meetings, following the announcements, we'll take the time for golks to share experiences, problems and get questions answered. We'll also see if any Y2K hangover items have been noticed now that some six weeks of the New Year - after Y2K - will have transpired. Members are urged to take good notes and share as much detail as possible on glitches they may be able to convey to the rest of us.

Then, we will explore the topic of "programming for your PC" - something I think that most of us coming from the 8-bit world may not have expected to do. However, there are opportunities even for the novice without having to become a C++ guru. So, join us - and see!

[continued]

MAIN LINE AMIGA USERS - John's Place

BEGINNING last month, the Amiga SIG members met in more friendly surroundings, namely my home, AND AT A NEW TIME, 9:00AM to 11:30AM! For travel directions, first time attendees should call me at home at 610-828-7897 evenings, email me on the club BBS (610-828-1359), or email me at jwdeker@voicenet.com. The location is Lafayette Hill, PA and only a couple of blocks from the intersection of Ridge Pike & Joshua Road, and 1.5 miles from the intersection of Ridge Pike and the Blue Route (I-476).

More friendly surroundings included a telephone link to the BBS and the Internet. No longer were we operating in isolation. January's emphasis was on telecommunications after having been

[continued]


EMULATORS FOR FUN !

Many Commodore users have gravitated to other platforms - notably the PC/clone system - in the last decade; but have not lost their interest in the old 8-bit stuff. For some, their dual interest has been satisfied by using their new, more powerful computers to run emulators. These utilities then let them run their old, favorite software without the need to keep both old and new computers in spiffy condition (or provide the desk space!!). In March, we hope to start exploring the emulator trade - mayhap it will interest you??? Gather your ideas for next month ....

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Getting Started with Linux - IV

The shutdown command also gives you quite a bit of flexibility in terms of timing. If you want the shutdown to proceed right away, just enter the word 'now'. If you want to shut the system down five minutes from now, you can enter '+5'. Therefore, this command:

shutdown -r +15

means, 'shut the system down starting fifteen minutes from now, and reboot after the shutdown has completed'

Three Finger Salute!!!

The X Window System

Starting X Manually

In order to get X started, you'll first need to log in. then enter the "startx" command.

When you're done, and you'd like to leave X, you can click on any part of the desktop (in other words, the part of the screen without any windows) using your mouse's primary button. Select the 'Exit Fvwm', 'Quit', or 'logout' menu entry, and X will shut down, leaving you at your original character-cell shell prompt. You can then logout as usual.

Starting X Automatically

It is possible to configure your Linux system such that X will start automatically whenever the system is booted. When configured in this manner, xdm will run, which will present a graphically-oriented login screen. After logging in, you will have a regular X session running, just as if you had issued a startx command manually. Pretty neat, eh?

Here's a quick overview of how it's done: * Test xdm using telinit. * Edit /etc/inittab. * Reboot.

Testing xdm Using telinit

-- The telinit command is used to change your Linux system's 'run level'. It is the run level that controls various aspects of system operation, including whether xdm should be started or not. Newly-installed Linux systems use run level 3 as their default; this results in the character-cell login prompt you've seen. Since xdm is started at run level 5, you'll need to issue the command:

/sbin/telinit 5

you can go back to run level 3 using telinit (ie, '/sbin/telinit 3'), or by rebooting.

Editing /etc/inittab

-- The file /etc/inittab is used to, among other things, determine the system's default run level. We need to change the default run level from 3 to 5; therefore, we'll need to edit /etc/inittab. Using the text editor of your choice, change this line in /etc/inittab:

id:3:initdefault:

When you're done, it should look like this:

id:5:initdefault:

Virtual Consoles and X

Note that even if you're running X, you still have access to the regular character-cell user interface. That's because Linux uses virtual consoles while X is running. To switch to a virtual console, press [Ctrl]-[Alt]-[Fn], where [Fn] is any one of the first six function keys. When switching virtual consoles, you should see a standard login prompt; at this point you can login and use the system normally on any (or all) of the virtual consoles.

When you'd like to go back to your X session, simply press [Ctrl]-[Alu]-[F7].

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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LOADSTAR 128 - well, it is looking more like the end is looming for the LOADSTAR 128 quarterly disk publication. I recently had occasion to email with Fender Tucker and he told me that the last issue is expected to be #42 - the NEXT issue. I sent in my money with regrets - as this has been the only forum for significant stuff for the 128 mode!

Lo, these many years ago, while I was making heavy use of my PET 8032 (the "business" computer with the 12-inch, 80 column screen), I bought a VIC-20 for my younger son to use - for the new raft of COLORful games not possible on the monochrome PET. I never really used the VIC, with its 22 column screen and really crowded display when you were trying to program it (and it had such a sloooow disk drive compared to the then-speedy PET dual floppy drives).

The VIC was followed not too much later by the purchase of a C-64 - again mainly for my son and for its even better games. Since MLCUG was starting to convert from PETs to mainly 64's, having one of the beasts let me test stuff in prepping for meetings. But, that 40-column screen and the even sloooooweeeeer disk drives did not endear the 64 to me.

But, in 1985 - some seven years after I got my first PET - along came the C-128 with 80-column screen, full C-64 compatibility and faster, more capacious disk drives. So, I made the switch and the 128 has been my mainstay home computer ever since. I'm not a diverse program user so a half dozen or so key applications have helped me do what I wanted and needed. Unfortunately, the Commodore world did not really see it that way; so the 128 never became the mainstream Commodore platform, as I had really hoped it would be. This meant a limited range of apps for the machine and a lack of programmers to really stretch the limits of its technological capability (as they are stretching the 64 to tiis day). The Loadstar 128 was a standout in support of the machine, but even it never had the number and variety of offerings as its Loadstar 64 counterpart. Having it leave the scene will be a true loss .....

NEWSLETTERS PASSING AWAY! - the Philadelphia Area Computer Society (PACS), one of the oldest of computer clubs, has opted to discontinue their newsletter. They expect to have the material on their website and send out only a single page meeting announcement to their members.

I'm afsaid it won't be the same - but many clubs are moving in the same direction (and they are NOT all computer clubs!). Cost of the NL against dwindling membership is the prime driving force. Of course, if you do not go to the meetings (as I generally do not for PACS), then your dues do not buy you much!

As for MLCUG, we hope to keep the newsletter a bit more than just a meeting announcement; so even non meeting goers will be getting something for their dues.

How long we can keep it going depends on you - the members. If you hang in AND if you can bring in some occasional new blood, then we have a continued, hopefully useful future ahead .....

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Your fortune for today

More than any time in history, mankind now faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

-- Woody Allen --

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DISTRIBUTED COMPUTING

Elsewhere in this issue is my update on the SETI program - the most popular of several efforts underway to use the power of zillions of idle personal computers to tackle some really worthwhile computing chores.

The January 13th issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer had a very nice article on this endeavour. It highlighted SETI and two other efforts: breaking encryption systems and hunting for Mersenne prime numbers. This latter being one where you could win some serious money, if your computer happens to be the one that makes a find (there is a prize of $250,000 for a billion-digit prime - now that will take some SERIOUS computing!!!).

I'll have the article at the next meeting. You can check their respective websites for followup: setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu or www.distributed.net or www.mersenne.org.

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BOOT/EMERGENCY/STARTUP DISKS

by Emil Volcheck

Back in October-December of 1998, we had a series of articles on the preparation of bootable disks for Win95 that provide capability to recover from "disasters" and be able to perform repair functions or re-install your Windows 95 OS.

However, one deficiency of the normal Win95 startup disk, and of other boot disks, is their inability to provide access to your CD-ROM drive - a necessity to re-install the OS. Work arounds were suggested for that deficiency.

But, a vastly easier solution has been identified - from Microsoft no less! That is the Windows 98 Startup Disk. When you prepare this disk - analogous to the Win95 startup disk - it provides access to the CD drive directly.

I've tested this startup disk on several Windows 95 - NOT Windows 98 for which it was intended - machines. It has worked very nicely to provide CD drive access. On my own desktop PC, which has a 4-slot CD changer, it even provided access to ALL FOUR of the CD slots!

I've prepared one of these disks and updated the readme file to correct for some typos and grammar errors provided by the Redmond folks. I will have copies available at the next meeting (and subsequent meetings) for members to have for use on their Win98 or Win95 systems (there will be a $1 copy fee - that goes into the club treasury).

I'd like to have as many folks as possible try it on their machines (and tell us how well it works) to see how many CD-ROM drives fool it !

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

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 reasonabme!!!

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PC/128/64 MEETING
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The new year dawned! Y2K came and passed and all the old (and not so old) hands were at VU for ourfirst meeting of the new year!

As in recent past meetings, we held about an hour of roundtable discussion plus Q&A. Folks appear to be enjoying the opportunity to talk about problems they have or other questions that they are seeking other's input on. And, as long as it has value, we shall continue to talk!

Then, we moved to our Linux guru, Pete Whinnery, who conducted the "Linux moment" - see the item immediately following.

The last portion of the meeting was devoted to folks experiences with the just past Y2K.

A run round the table confirmed that the Y2K event had been relatively uneventful - thru the world and for each of us as individuals! None of the attendees could really report any noticeable problems. So, it looks like we'll just have to watch as tie days go by to see if some subtle troubles show themselves. But, all in all, we had pretty good luck ...

Tune in again next time. We hope more of the shrinking membership will avail themselves of the opportunities to share that the meetings uniquely offer - one of the main reasons we still hang on!

OUR LINUX MOMENT

Unbeknownst to himself, Emil had managed to mess up the hard drive boot sector on the club PC (thru the good offices of Norton Anti-virus!); so it would not boot, period, end of report! With a tip from Pete Whinnery, Emil was able to get her to boot properly into Windows 95, but could not regain the dual boot to Linux.

So, at the meeting, Pete's "Linux Moment" had as it's first act the restoration of the LILO dual booter. Accomplished by a short command (lilo -C /etc/lilo.conf) after booting to Linux with the Red Hat 6 boot disk. Note: there had been no corruption of any of the Windows or Linux files, directories or partitions - only the MBR (master boot record) had been. From then on things were hunky-dory...

For the second act, Pete set Linux up so that we could access the internet and the web from that side of the system - as we have been doing for the last year + with Netscape (or IE) in Windows. We can expect a short article on this in a future issue of the newsletter.

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ELEMENTARY TROUBLESHOOTING

A novel approach is to remove all power from the system, which removes most system overhead; so that resources can be fully devoted to doing nothing. Benchmarks on this technique are promising; tremendous amounts of nothing can be produced in this manner. Certain hardware limitations can limit the speed of this method, especially in the larger systems which require a more involved & less efficient power-down sequence.

An alternate approach is to pull the main breaker for the building, which seems to provide even more nothing, but in truth has bugs in it, since it usually iniibits the systems which keep the beer cool.

[ Source: the internet, where else? ]

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Nickel Knowledge

The Feb 2000 issue of PEI (PhotoElectronic Imaging) has a wonderful portayal of the Knoll Bros. and the colorful history of Adobe Photoshop. (Photoshop was a home-grown product and pitched to Apple before being taken on by Adobe.)

It's not often you see an article humanizing technology in this manner, so enjoy it while you can.

www.peimag.com

[Randy M. Zeitman randzman@chesco.com]

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SETI @ HOME - Continuing Saga!

by Emil Volcheck

The SETI folks have updated their software to version 2 - for both Windows and Mac systems. Interestingly enough, one of the key changes in the new version is a self-checking procedure to make sure that users have not modified the code and/or analysis procedures. Apparently, even in this field of distributed computing, there are cheaters trying to make themselves look good - without regard to whether they have compromised the scientific results being generated by their computers!!!

As of this writing, my complement of machines had processed 145 SETI data packets. This level of accomplishment has placed the mtcuba account at the 94% level - amongst the 1.6 million contibutors. The company is getting more rarified....

As noted before, you can check my progress at any time, by logging onto the website (setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu), selecting User Accounts, then Account Status. At the dialogue box, enter: mtcuba@udel.edu. When you press return, you'll see my stats!!!

If you would like to learn more, ask at the next meeting. Or just download the software and GO!

MAIN LINE AMIGA USER HAPPENINGS

by John Deker

BEGINNING last month, the Amiga SIG members met in more friendly surroundings, namely my home, AND AT A NEW TIME, 9:00AM to 11:30AM! For travel directions, first time attendees should call me at home at 610-828-7897 evenings, email me on the club BBS (610-828-1359), or email me at jwdeker@voicenet.com. The location is Lafayette Hill, PA and only a couple of blocks from the intersection of Ridge Pike & Joshua Road, and 1.5 miles from the intersection of Ridge Pike and the Blue Route (I-476).

More friendly surroundings included a telephone link to the BBS and the Internet. No longer were we operating in isolation. January's emphasis was on telecommunications after having been without that capability for so long. Specifically, the focus was on the the Term terminal program software, TCP/IP stacks, ao HTTP proxy, HServ, Amiga Internet browsers, and IE and Netscape for the Shapeshifter based Mac emulator. We also covered some Y2K issues.

For February we'll pick up with SSL, FTP clients, an FTP server, and the Thor newsreader and mailer and a little bit more discussion of Y2K.

We enhanced our meeting experience with a bit of delite for the appetite with donuts, orange juice, and some cinnamon-raisin bread for a real change of pace!

MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL TIME

Just a reminder, meeting attendees are urged to become club members. Membership gets you a monthly newsletter mailed to your home. The annual fee of $15 covers the cost of mailings.

THE FUTURE OF OUR AMIGA SIG

Please see the introduction paragraphs on the first page of this newsletter about the Amiga SIG's new meeting location. We will no longer meet regularly at Villanova University. We will also be trying to start our meetings a half hour earlier at 9:00AM instead of 9:30AM. So, please note the change of starting time.

MEETING REVIEW...

Y2K ISSUES

At least one desktop clock utility was discovered to have an unexpected Y2K display. DCCLOCK which some members have been using was found to display the new year in 3 digit form as 100. One member switched to NISCLOCK as an alternative. Another member opted to use the embedded clock in DIRECTORY OPUS 5.8x.

Both of the Amigas most popular archivers were found to have Y2K related issues. LHA's problems tend toward the cosmetic. The archive creation date for archives created this year displays as 100. 100 does come after 99 doesn't it? More serious were the problems of LZX. The creation date year displays as 256 for archives created this year. Year 2000 files within the archive list as year 128. When extracted, files originally date-stamped year 2000 by the OS assume the then current date and time of the OS while pre-Y2K files retain their original system dates.

The Amiga INet News discussion groups are currently focused on discussions og mailer and net news reader Y2K compliancy. We'll discuss this issue at our next meeting.

FOR THE LONG TERM

THE BEST Amiga terminal program, IMHO, is TERM. It is currently at version 4.7c. It has to be the most full featured terminal program available for the Amiga. Because of its many features, it can be a daunting program to configure for the novice terminal program user. Its speech capability makes it somewhat unique.

We briefly demonstrated TERM by connecting to the club BBS.

HOW TCP/IP STACKS STACK UP

There are 3 different TCP/IP stacks available to Amiga users. They are TERMITE TCP, MIAMI, and GENESIS-AMITCP.

The least capable, but possibly the easiest to setup is TERMITE TCP. I say least capable only because there is some client software that does not work with TERMITE. Otherwise, it performs just fine for a single interface installation, which is all most of us need. TERMITE TCP is a commercial product. The parent company, HiSoft, does not appear to be furthering development of this software.

For quite awhile MIAMI has been considered the best TCP stack around. It has always been relatively easy to configure and is the only Amiga TCP/IP stack to support SSL, Secure Socket Layer. Its one limitation has been support for only one interface at a time. That is changing with MIAMI DELUXE. MIAMI DELUXE is currently in an advanced beta phase state. The author, Holger Kruse, continues to develop the software, albeit, somewhat slowly. MIAMI is shareware.

AMITCP has been around for quite some time as a port from the Unix environment. For quite awhile it was freeware. As it matured, it was first marketed by VillageTronic. AMITCP's early interface was quite unfriendly, but it has always supported the use of multiple interfaces.

Today, AMITCP has been given a facelift and is called GENESIS-AMITCP. It is marketed by Active Technologies. The facelift consists primarily of a friendly configuration interface. Most Amiga netware has been designed with AMITCP in mind, and thus setting up a relatively capable mini LAN is easiest with the AMITCP stack.

HTTP HEAVEN

We took a brief look at 5 browsers, namely AWEB, IBROWSE, VOYAGER, INTERNET EXPLORER, and NETSCAPE. The last two browsers were demonstrated running within the SHAPESHIFTER Mac emulator. Bill Bacon pointed out the MS unique marquee capability of IE.

Of the three Amiga browsers, AWEB is currently the best in my opinion. Its display comes closest to Netscape and IE in appearance. It also has the best Java Script support among the three Amiga browsers. However, unlike VOYAGER and IBROWSE, it does not have any direct support for Secure Socket Layer (SSL). It depends on a TCP stack like MIAMI to provide SSL support.

If you're a writer of HTML code, you'll likely find the unique editor feature of AWEB very handy. With it you can easily export the HTML source code to your favorite editor.

The latest 2.x version of IBrowse is a bit buggy. It fails to display certain Web pages, but it is the only Amiga browser to support postscript printing using TURBOPRINT 7. A bug fix is supposedly in the works.

My experience with VOYAGER is ho-hum. I find it the least stable of the browsers, but it probably has the best built-in SSL support.

PROXY SERVED

For the browser portion of our meeting, we networked 2 Amigas through a single modem over an Ethernet LAN. We made use of a small piece of software called HTTPPROXY to make this happen.

A more universal approach would have been to use a Socks Proxy with a Socks server and Socks Wrapper clients or Socks aware applications. None of the current netware applications on the Amiga are Socks aware. Therefore, a Socks Wrapper client is needed. However, the Amiga Socks Proxies I've tried seemed somewhat buggy and were not demonstrated.

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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.

THAT NETMASK MAN (Getting Network Technical) [Part 2 of 2 - by John Deker]

So, how does the netmask get determined? Here's an example for the above situation for my LAN. We will work with the last number in the IP address. For example, the "?" in 192.168.0.? is the number we'll focus on. We'll also be converting this number to BINARY format. 1. In BINARY, decimal 255 looks like 11111111; and decimal 0 looks like 00000000.

2. We want the binary form of the subnet address to end in "0" as in 11111110; and the broadcast address to end in "1" as in 00000001.

3. For each subnet, we need to allow enough addresses for the number of machines on the subnet by selecting a proper netmask.

4. The binary form of the netmask number will always be allocated 1's starting from the left position.

For the network example given above, the ethernet will accommodate IP addresses 192.168.0.0 to 192.168.0.7, including the subnet & broadcast addresses. In binary form the first and last available address numbers look like this:

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1  = 1 decimal; host address of first computer on subnet
0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0  = 6 decimal; host address of last subnet computer
1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0  = 248 decimal in netmask 255.255.255.248
----------
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0  = 0; we AND the 6 (last machine in subnet) & 248 (Netmask) to
get our subnet or network address.

IN FACT, ANY IP ADDRESS IN THE SUBNET ANDED WITH THE NETMASK RESUMTS IN THE SAME SUBNET ADDRESS!

For the AmigaLink subnet our IP addresses, including subnet & broadcast addresses, range from 192.168.0.8 to 192.168.0.15. In binary they look like this:

0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1  = 9 decimal; first computer host address available
0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0  = 14 decimal; last computer host address available
1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0  = 248 decimal in netmask of 255.255.255.248
----------
0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0  = 8; we AND the 14 & 248 together to get our subnet address.

NOTE the patterns. The Netmask has 1's on the left & 0's on the right. Only the 1's on the right side of the IP addresses change. A subnet address range begins with an even value & ends with an odd value just as if we weren't using a smaller subnet than the standard IP addressing provides. The netmask value determines the maximum number of device addresses that can be used on a subnetwork.

DIRECTIONS FOR ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER MEETING ROOM

Meetings are in the St. Augustine Center at Villanova University. The 8-bit and PC sessions will be in Room 110 (Amigans at John Deker's house).

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/


64/128/PC/Amiga Meetings  2000  Steering Committee Meetings

February 12 February 16 March 11 March 15 April 8 April 12 ** * = first 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/ PUBLICITY: Robyn Josepis 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 SYSOP/AMIGA SIG: 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 AT LARGE: John Murphy 710- 935-4398