OpenPGP vs inline PGP

Neil Williams
Thu Jul 10 19:50:02 2003

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On Thursday 10 Jul 2003 1:07 am, Robin Lynn Frank wrote:
> I'll respond with my $0.02.  Everything compiled okay here.  But though I
> checked and rechecked to see if I'd followed instructions exactly, no joy.
> As if I wasn't already annoyed at the concept, I got to the part of the
> kmail howto which basically says execute this command.  It should work mo=
> of the time, but if it doesn't, add this text to wherever. =20

No matter what it may look like, evaluating the command within the right sc=
is essential to getting it working. Without that environment variable, it=20
will simply not work no matter how careful you have been up to that point.

The simplest test is, as I described, issue the command in a terminal windo=
then type kmail (don't start KMail from a menu or icon for this test, type =
in and hit enter), then it'll work. That's proof enough that the rest of th=
compilation / installation is perfect, it's just getting the variable loade=
properly. I've found somewhere near the middle of /usr/bin/startkde is=20
perfect for most distros.

> That is like
> saying start you car by inserting the key in the ignition switch, but if
> that doesn't work, push it down a hill and pop into gear when it is going
> fast.=20

But that is actually true. After all, if you buy an old banger you could be=
roll starting it regularly! Both of the methods described will work, it's=20
down to the user to try one and use the other if that doesn't work.=20

> If someone I employed ever did something in that haphazard a manner,
> I'd fire him in an instant.

Don't be so dogmatic. There are always shades of grey and some things just=
don't work well in black and white. I'm from a medical field and my work=20
involves a complex mix of the black/white areas of organic chemistry /=20
pharmacology and the mid-grey areas of psychology, motivation, counselling=
and education. You wouldn't fire a doctor for trying one method before tryi=
a more risky second method, just in case the simpler method worked? e.g. if=
keyhole surgery doesn't work, fine go in on elective but there's no point=20
denying the opportunity for keyhole - it just has to be tried. Suck it and=
see. The risks or complexity of the second method preclude it's use as=20
first-line but it is still worth having as a backup plan.=20

Would you rather treat every headache with a CAT scan and morphine just=20
because paracetamol doesn't always work?

Key start =3D plan A - suitable for many, if not most.
Hill start =3D plan B - a catch-all for problem situations that don't resol=
first time. Involves more effort but ultimately achieves the same objective.

With cars, you'd also need a plan C - call a mechanic!
With medicines, it would be - refer to the next level, e.g. to hospital=20
consultant or specialist etc.
With software - refer to a LUG, then on to the developers etc.

Distributions vary enormously and sometimes it just isn't possible to have =
fixed method - there are rules and standards about how cars have to behave=
but I can write my own Linux distro and it doesn't have to obey any of the=
conventions of Mandrake or RedHat. The more it does follow, the easier it=20
will be for others to use, but sometimes there are benefits to doing it=20
differently. (Ask any debian lover).

Variety is the spice of life.


Neil Williams

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