Shallow Thoughts

Akkana's Musings on Open Source, Science, and Nature.

Tue, 10 Aug 2004

James Todd, Sun, and Linux

A Sun employee named James Todd has been posting paeans to Sun and their Linux support on the svlug list (the thread). I don't intend to follow up to that thread, because I expect after 18 messages in four days (including 9 from jwtodd spanning over 800 lines) I expect most folks on the list would prefer to move on to other topics.

James attacks me repeatedly for my earlier blog entry wherein I say that the machines I saw in the Sun booth were all running Windows. He says he worked in the booth, and there were no Windows machines there.

If that's true, then that's terrific! I'm very happy to hear that all the machines I saw with "Start" menus and Redmond-looking icons and themes were actually just a theme Sun puts on their Linux (or Solaris?) desktop boxes. I don't know why Sun feels it necessary to make Linux look just like Windows -- maybe that's part of their theory that you don't need to know what OS you're on (which is really quite a good idea for corporate installations, and reportedly is working quite well internally at Sun). Perhaps they further assume that if they make the non-Windows installations look like Windows, people will be more accepting of the idea. I'm not sure this part is a good idea -- wouldn't it be better if the theme sent the message "Sun" rather than "Windows", so customers don't get the idea that they can just zip off to Dell or somewhere and buy cheaper machines that will do the same thing? Wouldn't it be better marketing at a show like Linux World to show off a theme that didn't look like Windows?

But that's all marketing. If the machines were in fact running Linux and Solaris, I'm happy to hear that I was wrong. Time will tell whether the Windows-like theme is the choice, and whether Sun sticks with Linux in the long run. Of course I hope they do, and that they succeed in selling linux boxes to corporate customers, and that the recent settlement agreement with Microsoft does not herald a withdrawal from open source, as it has with some other companies.

(Whether Sun has helped open source is not at issue, and never was part of this debate, as far as I know. They've already contributed quite a bit, with the Open Office project, and with contributions to Gnome and Mozilla accessibility and internationalization.)

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[ 13:29 Aug 10, 2004    More linux | permalink to this entry ]

wvdial works better than kppp

Okay, that subject line isn't likely to surprise any veteran linux user. But here's the deal: wvdialconf in the past didn't support winmodems (it checked the four /dev/ttyN ports, but not /dev/modem or /dev/ttyHSF0 or anything like that) so in order to get it working on a laptop, you had to hand-edit the modem information in the file, or copy from another machine (if you have a machine with a real modem) and then edit that. Whereas kppp can use /dev/modem, and it's relatively easy to add new phone numbers. So I've been using kppp on the laptop (which has a winmodem, alas) for years.

But with the SBC switch to Yahoo, I haven't been able to dial up. "Access denied" and "Failed to authenticate ourselves to peer" right after it sends the username and password, with PAP or PAP/CHAP (with CHAP only, it fails earlier with a different error).

Just recently I discovered that wvdial now does check /dev/modem, and works fine on winmodems (assuming of course a driver is present). I tried it on sbc -- and it works. I'm still not entirely sure what's wrong with kppp. Perhaps SBC isn't actually using PAP, but their own script, and wvdial's intelligent "Try to guess how to log in" code is figuring it out (it's pretty simple, looking at the transcript in the log). I could probably use the transcript to make a login script that would work with kppp. But why bother? wvdial handles it excellently, and doesn't flood stdout with hundreds of lines of complaints about missing icons like kppp does.

Yay, wvdial!

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[ 12:51 Aug 10, 2004    More linux | permalink to this entry ]