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Computing At Chaos Manor:
The Mailbag

Jerry Pournelle jerryp@jerrypournelle.com
www.jerrypournelle.com
Copyright 2009 Jerry E. Pournelle, Ph.D.

January 19, 2009

First a brief correction. I said in the January 2009 column that something like 10% of the human race become lactose intolerant after childhood. Dr. Gregory Cochran informs me that it's more like 75%.


The new book by Cochran and Harpending, entitled The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution, is now available. I'll do a full review another time, but I should say now: highly recommended.


I have been overcome with enthusiasm for getting my next novel, Mamelukes, done and out the door, so I didn't get a Windows 7 Beta. Meanwhile, Chaos Manor Associate Eric Pobirs has been experimenting with Windows 7.

Blake's 7 Beta:

A short while ago I disconnected my Vista desktop's hard drive and connected in its place a new pristine drive I got in a post-xmas blowout. (640 GB for $75.) Then I installed the Windows 7 Beta. Actually, I spent some time trying to figure out why I couldn't boot from DVD, then remembered that my Intel DG865SS board doesn't support booting from PATA devices and SATA optical drives were still very expensive when the machine was built. I plugged in my LG 18X USB DVD burner, first purchased to revive the first generation Tablet PC Jerry gave me after getting a newer model, THEN I started the install.

The BIOS was set for slow boot with details displayed and I got to the initial installation menu at 10:55 PM. At 11:16 PM, after two reboots in that slow mode, it was done. In Win7 mode, the machine known as Cory under Vista is under a new name, Blake, for reason I suspect will be obvious for anyone on this list.

So far the polish is pretty good. Only one item lacks a proper driver, that old annoyance the Simple PCI Communications Controller. It's very odd that Intel has been so resistant to keeping this up to date for new Windows releases. It's just this one item. all of the other Intel bits on the board are fully supported. By comparison, Nvidia already has a beta driver with some Win 7 enhancements up on Windows Update. Makes me wonder whether I'd have any unsupported chipset bits on a recent nForce-based board.

-- Eric

Captain Ron Morse comments

I dunno about nForce, but W7 didn't have an Smbus driver for my Gigabyte EP-35 board. Manually installing the chipset driver took care of that, although the first attempt failed with a "operating system version not supported" message. Used the provided utility to tell the Intel installer the O/S was 64-bit Vista and all is well.

Two other device drivers required manual installation: My Epson 4490 flatbed scanner (downloaded the all-in-one driver package from Epson's web site. The installer failed, but using Device Mangler to manually install the driver worked). The other device is my HP 2605DN Colored LaserJet printer. The W7 shipset didn't have a driver for this model (but there were several that would have worked with the printer in emulated Postscript mode). Clicking on the "windows update" button on the driver selection page caused the system to freeze for most of the first hour of "24", but then it miraculously came back to life and showed a 2605/2605DN/2605TDN driver, too. Slick, but slow. Op note: The "find my printer" wiz worked very quickly. All in all, printer setup is almost as easy in W7 as it is with Linux (assuming drivers are available).

The rest of the install was pretty nominal, but took a long time. In time-honored Windows fashion it overwrites the existing bootloader which prevents access to my Linux installations, but fixing that (by now) is trivial. The only Windows application I have available to install into W7 is a copy of Outlook 2003 and that works. I have Adobe CS3 on my XP installation, but I don't trust Adobe's authentication system on a non-production system, nor whether it will let me go forth and back between XP and W7, so it will stay on XP alone.

I'll say it now because it will come up later, anyway...the multi-media integration is miles ahead of anything I've seen on Linux. It's almost as good as OS X. W7 simply "just plays" anything I've tossed at it.

I give the W7 beta high marks for screwed-togetherness.

Ron Morse

And Eric replies

The missing driver didn't turn out to be the SMbus, as expected from so many past Intel board installs, but instead the Management Engine component was what was needed. On first try it didn't like the OS version but installed immediately when made to believe it was installing on a Vista system.

I knew from one of the WinHEC sessions I attended that Win7 would have a lot more codecs in the base package than previous Windows, along with some nifty transcoding functions but it was still surprising to be able to play an XVID file (Lab Rats episode 01, not on par with The IT Crowd.) on a system that had received no third party installations.

The scarcity of pre-installed apps after getting used to Vista was also a change of pace. I still need to get all of the Windows Live offerings installed. Also, there is a new BIOS update from late November for this board.

The 'remove hardware' function for pulling out USB devices is hugely improved. I've yet to have it tell me the device was still being used by something when this shouldn't be the case, and the whole thing has been sped up tremendously. Down to 1 or 2 seconds compared to the tens of seconds you could be made to wait under XP/Vista. It may not sound like much but it's one of the things that gets really irritating. We'll take it for granted after Win7 has been out a while but that is how it should have been all along.

-- Eric

I also have this report:

Windows 7 Beta & VMware Fusion

Jerry,

Just a quick note:

VMware Fusion 2.0.1 sees the Windows 7 Beta, Build 7000, as Vista and installs it from the ISO file without a hitch. The whole virtual machine with current updates and Firefox has a nominal virtual disk size of 40 GB and occupies 6.27 GB of actual disk space.

I've never played with Vista. Windows 7 looks pretty good. Firefox 3.0.5 runs well. When Windows 7 is started up in VMware, it puts on a psychedelic light show of blinking streaks and blocks, but then the desktop appears and seems stable from there.

Bill Dooley

I'll get the next iteration of Windows 7 and install it with VMware on my MacBook Pro when I get Mamelukes finished. I'll also put it on my Intel Quad Extreme system. If that works, I may gulp hard and try it on my main communications system. Meanwhile I'm glad to get your reports. Thanks!


A neighbor dropped off a recent 1TB Seagate FreeAgent "Extreme" external hard drive because it was intermittent (bad USB cable) but while troubleshooting I checked the Seagate web site and came across this link Is this news or have I just been looking for love in all the wrong places?

Ron Morse

Robert Bruce Thompson replies

It's not news, but it's started to heat up over the last couple of days.

There've been reports of problems with 7200.11 drives becoming unaccessible. Originally, those reports were about the 1.5 TB unit, but it's since been determined that several other models are exhibiting the problem. The most numerous reports have been about the 1.5 TB unit with the SD15 firmware. (I have three of these, but with the SD17 firmware, which is apparently also affected in some drives.) The problem seems more prevalent with the Thailand- made units, but also occurs in the Chinese-made ones.

Seagate tech support starting yesterday was telling people there'd be a new firmware release available on Tuesday. Oddly, they aren't saying that it'll fix the problem, but just recommending it be applied. I have no idea whether there'll be any alternative to the Windows executable they've mentioned, but I hope there'll be bootable CD ISO that I can run on my Linux systems.

--
Robert Bruce Thompson
thompson@ttgnet.com

Eric Pobirs adds:

There had better be some form of bootable fix, because that is the only way it can happen in many cases where the bad drive is the boot volume and it is undesirable to pull it out of the machine. Even then it'll be beyond the understanding of a large portion of users. At best it will just make it a lot easier for people like me who do onsite service to get the fix in.

OTOH, as I recently rediscovered when I was installing the Win7 beta, there is a whole generation of PCs that cannot boot from their parallel optical drives. A USB optical drive gets past that but it adds to the fun abounding in this situation.

-- Eric

Due to my recent preoccupation with fiction I don't have any 1.5 TB drives. I have used the Seagate 1 TB drives in Bette, the Core 2 Quad 6600 machine I use as my main communications system, with no problems, but of course that is as an internal drive.

My experience with USB External drives larger than 200 GB have not been good. There were frequent problems with copying large files or large numbers of files. Several of the older 500 GB External drives have just plain stopped working properly: the drive itself seems to be all right, but the electronics in the drive aren't working properly. I have tried two of these older drives with Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X with the same result. In Windows there is an attempt to install the drive, but the operating system doesn't see it after installation; or in one case it sees the drive but I can't open it.

There's nothing on those drives I need - I found out about the problem when I wanted to sneakernet some files from a machine before taking it out of the discontinued Active Directory network - so I have been in no hurry to do anything with them, but at some point I'll disassemble them and try the drive itself in an external USB adapter. I would bet the drives are fine, but the electronics aren't.

On the other hand, I have been using a Seagate 100GB "book" USB drive for years, and always carry it on trips as an emergency backup. I have never had a glitch with it. I have also had intermittent problems with external USB drives for the iMac 20: they sometimes just vanish from the finder. Since people continue to use 500 GB and full TB external drives most of them must be working, but I'm pretty wary about them.


Some mail originates with postings in my day book www.jerrypournelle.com which generate replies that ought to be over here. This is one of them. While I was down at the beach house, I said:

The monitor here wants 1440 x 900 resolution; it's a ViewSonic VA 1930wm; the wm, I presume, denotes a "wide screen" monitor. The ViewSonic I usually use with the ThinkPad t42p up in the monk's cell at home is a 19" ViewSonic that does not have "wide screen" and I sure prefer it to this one. For wordsmiths the width of the display isn't all that important because you can't make lines very long before you have to start moving your head to take in a line. That's very bad for productivity. I set my manuscript size for 10 - 12 word lines, and the more lines I can get on the page the better; wide screens mean that I have a lot of blank space on each side of a page of text, and the page is cut off so that I don't see the whole page without scrolling. (Yeah, I know, some youngsters can make the type small enough that they can see the whole page at once. Whippersnappers. I lost that ability back in the early dark ages, back when I invented computer glasses and didn't think to patent the concept. Sigh.)

In any event, while I like ViewSonic monitors, I have to say I like square monitors a lot better than "Wide Screen". There was a time when you could rotate a "wide screen" so that that the long dimension became vertical, which was great for writers, but I don't think anyone makes such a monitor now, certainly not in any affordable bracket. My friend Phil Tharp keeps urging me to get 23" or even larger monitors so that I can have everything I am doing up on screen at once; which is probably a great idea for those who do a lot of things at once, but when I try to write fiction I don't need the distractions: I don't want to see my email while I am constructing a scene set in an extra-terrestrial incarnation of Crusader Venice. One of these days I'll get a new monitor for down here and take this one home to use on a non-writing computer. It's a good monitor in all respects but that one.

The mail began pouring in, and I said:

I have a very great deal of mail informing me that I have been misinformed about monitors: Apparently there are many reasonably priced monitors that can be swiveled from wide screen -- landscape -- mode to vertical or portrait mode, and of course the software to accomplish that has been built into Windows and Mac OS for a long time. Apparently I need to get out more: there are many of these, all competitive, and my "market research" has mostly consisted of the local Fry's sales advertisements; if any rotating monitors have got into those ads I missed them.

I haven't visited David Em's place for a long time, or I would know that he routinely uses several monitors, in particular a pair one landscape and one portrait attached to his main machine. Others have written me to say they do the same: the vertical or portrait monitor has Word, and the landscape or wide screen monitor displays everything else. This makes so much sense that when I get home I am going to try it. I'll also look for a rotatable monitor to keep down here at the beach house since I mostly write here, and the more words on a page the better except that lines ought not be more than about ten words long. I'll have more on this when I actually make changes in my establishment. Thanks to all of you who wrote me about this. I indeed appreciate the information.

I also got this message from JoAnne Dow

If your monitors have VESA mounts you can simply visit NewEgg or TigerDirect and buy a replacement stand that features elevation and rotation. I am thinking of doing that with my Gateway 24" that I have fallen in love with. You could do that with your favorite monitors. I also note that I can tell my (crappy) ATI video drivers to rotate the video in 90 degree steps to handle such rotation.

I got it from TigerDirect because their return policy on monitors is much better than NewEgg's. And you KNOW about my paranoia streak so you can figure how sure I was that I'd get a monitor with N-1 very annoying stuck pixels where N is NewEgg's policy number. (Otherwise I rather tend to like NewEgg for a better selection.)

{^_^}

Joanne isn't the only one to remind me that I can change mounting stands for monitors. Alas, I'm a bit lazy for that. I'm certainly not going to do that with the monitor I keep down at the beach, and I probably won't do it here; but it's a thought.

Phil Tharp tells me the solution is to get a very large monitor for the MacBook Pro and put documents in vertical mode with everything else off to the side in horizontal. That's sort of what David Em does, except that David uses more than one monitor to achieve the result.

I'll probably do some more experimenting. The square ViewSonic 19" up in the Monk's Cell shows enough lines that I have no problems working on my novels (using the ThinkPad t42p to drive the ViewSonic). I would prefer a monitor that let me see a full page of 10-word lines, but when you're working on text everything changes anyway; a portrait oriented screen would be more a convenience for reading than an aid to writing; but the more lines on screen the easier it is to work. None of this is critical. After all, my first computer had only 16 lines of text from its S-100 Bus VDM board.


Hi Jerry,

All the best, and in particular good health, for 2009.

I just read your long reaction to a mail about word processors (Chaos Manor Mail link), and noted one glaring omission: WordPerfect. WP still exists and is in its X4 incarnation (thus, version 14 for Windows). It's actually Corel WP Office X4. I have version X3 and have been using WP since its DOS 5.0 version. The present package is a full office suite that includes Quattro Pro and Presentations, as well as an e-mail client.

All of this is serious software. In many ways, WP has always been more powerful than Word. It is better for complex layouts as it is character-based, not paragraph-based. And it has its famous 'underwater' screen that allows you to find, modify and get rid of any formatting codes that get in the way. It exports to PDF without needing Acrobat, and reads basic PDF documents. It does tracking changes and can merge and compare documents. Et cetera. In trems of spelling and grammar, it comes with several dozen languages built in and is sold with the Oxford dictionary. It will as happily check my French grammar as English or Dutch (or Russian, or Spanish, or whatever; I think it even includes Swahili). There is a special law version (at least there was).

Take a look at this: http://wpvsword.com/. It's up to version 11/12 but generally still holds true. WP is not as perfect as it was in its DOS versions (WP 6.1 for DOS was one of the most powerful wordprocessors ever, even compared to 21st century Windows programs); mostly because the various companies who owned it after the original WP company have tried to make it more Word-like. But it is still, technically speaking, a very serious alternative to MS Office, and Word in particular. I must admit I am still using it, and although I am not a bestseller author like you, I do write for a living (as a copywriter and house journal editor). I use my Word versions (2000 and 2003, with Office 2007/docx import filters) primarily to open documents that WP is not happy with. Collaboration is the main culprit here. Conversions between Word and WP are OK as long as formatting is not too complex - the character-based formatting and the paragraph/style-based way of doing things do not always convert flawlessly back and forth. But graphic artists usually like the documents that have been cleaned of hidden formatting codes using WP, after which they are exported to Word format...

I do agree that for many people, WordPad actually has enough power to accomplish most of their writing tasks. I often use it for quick notes or to copy blocks of text from a website that I want to print or store. For a simple letter or short note, Word and WP are usually overkill.

Regards,

Frank Schweppe

I used Word Perfect for a while, back when the standard joke was that the goal of Word Perfect was to get a lot of people typing very complex control-alt-meta-cokebottle key combinations at the same time: if enough did so, the event would summon Cthulhu or Lucifer or some such entity. I agree that it was a very powerful program.

It was never a temptation for me, first because I didn't need all that power - I do need good search and substitution capabilities, and I very much need document comparison and merge power, but my formats have always been fairly simple, and my first priority is compatibility with my previous work - and with what Larry Niven is using. Getting Niven to learn a new Word Processor would be difficult, and I wouldn't attempt it without a great many more advantages than Word Perfect has over Word.

One of the advantages of Word Perfect is that WP incorporates Grammatik, I think the best grammar checking program ever written, and for beginning writers WP and Grammatik may be better than the grammar checking program in Word; alas, I wouldn't know, because I haven't paid much attention to grammar checking programs in years.

That is not to say that such programs can't be important. For more on that, see my essay on how to get my job.

I continue to use Word, although I may experiment with Scrivener. Most of this is explained in the Chaos Manor Mail link given by Mr. Schweppe, above.

One thing I very much miss from the DOS days are easily available readability programs. The best of those was Corporate Voice from Scandinavian Systems. This program did analyses of text and compared its readability to a number of styles. It displayed many analyses of text, including word length counts, type/token ratios (unique words/total words), bricks/mortar ratio (unique words/total words), sentence lengths, and many other factors relevant to readability. I used this program in DOS times, but it vanished when Windows took over.

I could probably get it to run (assuming I can find a drive to read its floppy disks), but to use it I have to convert everything to plain text to perform the analysis, then make corrections in the Word program. This gets tedious, as does using the Microsoft Readability analyzer built into Word.

The original Scandinavian Systems software had comparisons of your text's readability to a number of standards. One of the standards was technical magazine writing, and the basis of that standard was, I learned, my BYTE columns. I don't think there's anything quite like Corporate Voice available now, which is a pity; I do wish someone had adapted that program to Word for Windows.


Windows Backup Tool - ICE Mirror

Jerry - I wanted to alert your readers to an extremely handy backup utilty for Windows.

Several things I love about this program. 1. It doesn't use any proprietary formats - the backup is fully useable.
2. It creates a simple txt log file so you can see what it has done, and most important
3. You can stop it 1/2 way through and pick back up later with no loss of information, data, etc.

This is perfect for making a copy of all my music and photo files to a new hard drive.

http://www.ice-graphics.com/ICEMirror/IndexE.html

This utility creates or maintains an exact duplicate of the original directory. ICE Mirror will compare the mirrored directory to the master directory and correct any disparities. ICE Mirror allows ultra fast mirroring because it performs incremental updates. In other words it only copies files that have changed. If only a few files have been updated, it performs very fast.

Also ICE Mirror allows making differential updates. The differential updates are very useful if you are use read-only media (CD-R, DVD-R, DVD+R, etc.). There are two steps in differential updates:

1. Comparison the master directory and the mirrored directory.
2. Copying all new files from the master directory to the secondary mirrored directory.

In other words it only copies files that have changed in the mirrored directory to the secondary mirrored directory.

Jim Coffey
http://jimcoffey62.googlepages.com/home - my new web page

This is another program that I have to try, but I haven't yet. Thanks for the recommendations.


dBase Successors?

As a developer with 30 installations of applications using Visual FoxPro, I'd love more information about alternatives. MSFT has decided to 'sunset' the product (as of 2015, so it's not all that urgent) and I'd love to find something that is a reasonable replacement. In particular, I need something that offers both programmatic capability and direct data manipulation. Been looking at various things (FileMaker, Access, MySQL with a PHP front end, etc.), but they all fall down somewhere.

Joseph White

I wish I could help, but perhaps one of the readers will be able to suggest something. I copied a data base program by Gupta that was published in an early edition of BYTE, and incorporated it into a number of programs including an accounting program I used. The original program was in Microsoft Basic but it was easily translated into CBASIC as well as into the Microsoft Compiled Basic that followed the original; Gupta wrote it in a highly structured form. Later I used dBase before converting to Q&A. Now, I confess, I don't really have a good data base program and don't use one; I do use contact lists in Outlook for a number of purposes. At some point I really ought to get a good data base.


USB device security

Sir:

It *is* hard to infect read-only media.

If your thumb drive has a write-protect switch, and you remember to use it, you can use a kiosk safely. At one time many thumb drives had them. Now they are harder to find:

"[Newegg link]"

Also, SD cards have write-protect switches.

Regards,

Bob Wakefield

Thank you.


Rebooting

Dear Jerry,

I'm a member of the reboot daily party as it prevents problems at the OS and application level. it also especially easy with Macs to set them to shutdown after the evening backup and startup at the designated time in the morning. I wish that my Wmobile phone could be setup to do that. Although Windows Mobile 6 is better than V5 that had to be rebooted every day, it works better if its rebooted about twice a week.

Take care,

--
Robert K. Kawaratani

I find that everything I use, including my iPhone, seems to work better when rebooted frequently. I was reminded of this when my iPhone dropped a call today: rebooting it gave me two more bars of signal strength. That may be a coincidence, but I have noticed this before.


Many people remain unhappy that Vista didn't get an onion:

Macs

Jerry,

A friend whose Sony laptop required a new power cord at four months tells me that the repair person, who also does Mac's, reports a sharp spike in the number of Mac's coming in for repairs in less than three months.

Don't know if this is a reflection of increased Mac purchases to avoid Vista, a statistical trend regarding Mac quality, or a combination of the two.

I did note that Dell is still selling business computers with downgrades to XP Pro. They advertise the service costs $99 but were including it in the quoted price.

J

I don't have Vista on a laptop but then I don't have any really new Windows laptops. I had a Lenovo laptop with Vista before I had to return the review unit, and it worked fine for me. My only problem with it was the "wide screen" aspect; I prefer my t42p because I can see more words on the screen.

On Net Neutrality:

Hi Jerry,

The problems, as I understand them, are these: Must Comcast provide the same speed of service for Vonage as it does for its own VOIP packets? In the case of Comcast VOIP, someone has paid for the service; Vonage comes in from somewhere else as part of a sharing agreement, and Comcast is not paid anything other than reciprocity for packets that go from Comcast to some other ISP. In the case of Comcast as I understand it, they don't send VOIP packets through anyone else.

The same speed of service? I think that's an impossible request, since it would require Comcast to control networks outside of its own.

Thus the "level playing field" means that Comcast must treat incoming VOIP packets exactly the same as it treats VOIP packets that it originated; not that it can't route VOIP ahead of, say, bit torrents or even email, but that if it does that for any VOIP then it must do it for ALL VOIP packets, its own and those that come in from Resume Speed, Michigan through a small family owned ISP.

I agree with your assessment of "level playing field", that VOIP is VOIP, irrelevant of where it originated. Isn't this the best for all customers? I choose to get my VOIP line from my cable provider, since I know it will give me the best reliability and the least latency, both of which are quite important for VOIP. But I would like to know that if I get another VOIP connection that my cable provider would treat it with the same level of urgency. VOIP providers then can compete on service and price, and it allows smaller players into the game. VOIP is of course just an example; it applies to all types of web services, including websites. If Comcast can block outside VOIP traffic, then why not block websites that haven't paid an admission fee? If providing services becomes the domain of large budget companies, then the consumer loses, and this is where the "freedom of speech" argument is based.

That is my understanding of what net neutrality would mean. I am open to corrections on this, but I have found that even experts have problems with the simple question: what is the Rule, and what entity issues and enforces it to achieve net neutrality. I find that different advocates of neutrality have entirely different views of what Rule they would impose.

If we allow ISPs to treat internal traffic better than outside traffic, then we are headed for a "walled-garden" type of internet, which is what MSN and AOL were originally, and have been rejected by subscribers. MSN morphed into a web portal, and AOL had to open up the internet in an effort to keep subscribers. I do completely agree that there is a range of views of exactly what net neutrality means, but they all boil down to preventing ISPs from treating their own traffic preferentially to outside traffic. Certainly monitoring and enforcing it is a complex task, but I'm sure you could apply principles similar to what has been used in other industries such as random sampling, inspections etc. One could argue that it fits the mandate of the FCC the best, but it is an entirely different question if they are the best group to do it.

Glenn Hunt


Reviews, then and now...

Some comments on your December 'column'

Mr. Pournelle,

I came about reading you (again) in a roundabout way - I was reading something else, and there was a reference to you that said something about you always flattering products you reviewed. This caught my attention because, long ago, in another era, I bought and read BYTE, and the occasional BIX; and I could not, for the life of me, remember anything like what they said you do. I remember the 'Recommended' very well... and I thought it would be a good epitaph in a way - nobody else ended a story with a sentence-phrase like that (I hope you are not in need of an epitaph soon).

For the record, my recollection of your columns were of stories told of a man (and his son) coping successfully (and sometimes not) with technology - what else could you do but recommend some of the products you tested? I do not remember any bias then and that was why I was curious enough to click the link. In the years in between, things had changed, magazines were no longer affordable, the internet had arrived and a lot of water had gone under the bridge. I had forgotten BYTE.

I am glad I happened on that link. Reading your December 2008 write-up was a delight and a reminder of why I enjoyed reading your columns so much - a human being, telling his stories and his wrestles with technology in a most entertaining, enthralling and fascinating way. And for the record, I think - still - the charge is wrong. If Linksys works for me (as it does, along with Netgear and Huawei SmartAx - some pun, that), I would recommend it too.

So, just to let you know your articles are - still - much appreciated. I am glad you recovered very well from your illness, too.

Regards,

From a 63-year-old Nigerian somewhere in Ghana

Thanks for the kind words. My early columns had more negative reviews and some of them were called "killer" reviews; one company threatened to sue both me and BYTE until McGraw Hill legal persuaded him this wasn't a good idea.

But over time I decided that life wasn't long enough for me to write about products I didn't like, and for a decade I have seldom done so. That doesn't mean I won't warn my readers about something they should avoid, but given that I have nothing like McGraw Hill legal on my side now, I have to be very careful; and there are usually plenty of people to write killer reviews. I like telling people about things they will like.


I mentioned Clark Connect as one possible alternative to the Active Directory network here. A reader responds:

Hey Jerry,

ClarkConnect Home is great! I have run a fileserver/router with it for more than three years now, and it just runs. The OS is CentOs, a Red Hat derivative, and is stable as a rock. Relatively easy to set up and administer, works nicely with Linux, OS X Vista and XP (and 98, still have one machine running that). The home version is free, without support, but commercial versions are available that come with support, if needed. I have a lot of the extra stuff, like my local mail server, running without issue. I had some learning curve issues with setting up some of the more intricate routines, but made it all work after a while.

Recommended!

Geep Howell

Thanks!