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April  13th 2002

Members attending the meeting included:   Richard Foerster,  Alan
Shoemaker,  Mac Shaver,  Don Evinger,  Dick Mathews, Jim Lucha,  Klaus Herzog , Todd Lyons and Martin Fleming.

New members, Ossil Macavinta, Dana Rodden, Mark DiNicolai,  Karl Pomroy, Joe Bruner, Jeff Lensman, Eric Holland, and Eric Schwartz were unable to make this meeting.    Also missing at this meeting were Dave Reisz, Gary Taylor, Ken Howels,  Hung Nguyen, Kandy Phan, Tad Peters, Isaac Saldana,  Forrest Sherman,  Craig Carignan, and  Jim Vassilakos.

Mac provided members with some insights on the DirectWay two-way satellite access system he recently had installed.  The system consists of an oval dish and transponder using KU {or KA ?} band and two modems; one for transmit and the other for receive.  Currently the router and modem require Windows to initialize the gateway.  Hughes will soon release a router that will incorporate transmit, receive and router functions that will eliminate the operating system dependency and additionally provide USB support.  There are two ways to get started: 1) cash up front which amounts to a net outlay of about $600 or 2) $99 down & $99/month.  Either way, after the first year the plan cost is $59.00 per month.  Another option allows the addition of TV programming to this package.

Alan had a brief ‘rant’ over a recent incident he had over a purchase made at ebay using PayPal.  He later notes unusual charges to his account, which he caught and had resolved by his bank, but the charges appeared to be linked to the use of PayPal.  He cautioned members to be careful and go over statements carefully if PayPal is used as the payment gateway for any on-line purchases.

Jim Lucha, mentioned an interesting new programming language just released by IBM, that is used to develop ‘weblications’.   The language, SashXB is more than just a way to simplify Linux development. Programmers of all skill levels can use SashXB to create "weblications," which are Linux applications that "live" on the desktop just like a traditional application, but can be updated as easily as a Web page.

When a user's computer is connected to the Internet, weblications' content and functions can be updated with data sent through the application's home server. When disconnected from the Net, weblications can use stored or local data to function

There was also a discussion concerning a Linux distribution that runs entirely off of a CD, without having to modify the system hard disk in any way.  The distribution is known as DemoLinux.  DemoLinux is a modern evolution of what is known as a Live File System. General instructions on how to make a Live File System are available in many places(like LinuxGazette), but DemoLinux developers recommend the excellent HOWTO by Hans de Goede as a reference.

The developers were motivated by a desire to make it possible to everybody to look at what Linux can offer, and to make it possible for software publishers wanting to show their Linux-based software to distribute a no hassle hands-off demo CD.   It turns out that this kind of CD makes also a wonderful Linux-to-go solution: you might carry your favorite desktop configuration in your pocket, sit in front of a non-Linux box, boot from the CD and be in front of your preferred environment in minutes

To try DemoLinux, you need an IBM-PC compatible computer with a CD-ROM drive (better if it is an ATAPI one, and if it is less than 32x, be prepared to be patient), and at least 64 Mb of RAM (32 with some versions of DemoLinux, 16 in text-mode, but no decent StarOffice with less than 128Mb),  a PS/2 or a serial mouse (you may use a more exotic mouse, but in that case you need to pay attention to some specific instructions.  This allows you to get a running Linux system with a preconfigured desktop.  Other options allow, if you choose,  to use a portion of the hard disk to speed up performance and provide  permanent storage for files and documents you create.    Success is more likely if you try DemoLinux on newer systems with common {standard} hardware.   Older systems with off beat hardware may require tweaking.

El Torito is a specification that says how a cd-rom should be formatted such that you can directly boot from it.   Alan reported that by using El Torito he was able to make what would otherwise be a 'boot floppy' on a CD-ROM to permit a multiple OS system without having to mess with the mbr.  See the links below for more information:


All-in-all the meeting was a great success, and we are looking forward to our next meeting on May 11th, 2002.