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Slackware - Please Keep Patrick Volkerding in Your Thoughts

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Old Unix and Linux 02-11-2005
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Slackware - Please Keep Patrick Volkerding in Your Thoughts

For those of you you do not follow Slackware, one of the first Linux distros, going back to 1993, you may not know that Patrick Volkerding, the man behind it all, has been very ill:


Please keep Pat in your thoughts and prayers.



Thu Jan 13 22:50:33 PST 2005

Hey all concerned folks,

I'd rather keep my silence, but I guess it's just not that easy. For one
thing, I've heard some rumors of takeover plans recently. Any folks
thinking of mounting a takeover effort could work with Vector or one of
the existing Slackware forks. If they "take over", it won't be Slackware,
it will be another Slackware fork. The only people chartered by me to be
issuing Slackware fixes while I'm recovering are Piter Punk, Bruno, and
the GUS group in Brazil, and in the unlikely event that I leave this
planet unexpectedly, they will be in charge of Slackware. Slackware has
been my baby for a large part of my life, and I'm still devoted to the
folks that use it. It is also my only livelihood. I would humbly ask for
patience, as I intend to be back at it, and I have bills to pay (more so
than usual, and with the 10.1 release so delayed the cash won't last
forever), but I am not looking for handouts. Instead, send your extra
money to a tsunami fund like Oxfam, or to the UN Humanitarian fund, or any
good charity tsumani-related or not. Project Open Hand and Seva are two
other wonderful organizations that need your money much more than I do.
Please consider this.

However, when Slackware 10.1 does release, I will be most grateful to
those who find it worthy of their continued support, and choose to pick up
a copy from us. :-)

I'm not looking for attention, and don't want to be a Slashdot story again
or anything like that. In fact, I've stopped reading that site because I
tend to let the trolls get to me (whether it's about me or not). It
reminds me too much of grade-school-style torment. Something I once read
on a site about Kempo (a martial-arts practice):

"Those of our ways are kind to all creatures, for hurtful thoughts are
quiet draining and aren't worth the loss of energy."

This is true, and I find it hard to control my own thoughts when reading
that site, and so it's best to let it out of my life for now. I'm
thankful for the site though, and for some people it's a great place to
hang out. I like nearly all the people there, but need to stay away for
now to conserve my energy and keep my balance.

That said, I clearly have to say something, because I know there's some
turmoil occuring out there in Slackware-land. And it's not that I want to
keep people in the dark, or that I knew something but wasn't telling (at
least not until recently). I made the choice to go public with this in
mid-November as what I perceived as a last effort to see if the medical
community could help me regain my health, and so of course the public is
interested in what's going on and many feel they are entitled to know.
Understand that posting about my health is not a hobby I enjoy (regardless
of how it may have looked last year. ;-) The most common query I'm
getting is "what did it turn out to be?", and well, if that was known I'd
have said something. It's still an unknown. I know that it is not HIV or
Syphilus. It is also quite unlikely that it's cancer, as I've had
numerous CT and X-ray studies that don't show such things, and it responds
to some antibiotics (but not others). Also, it's not in my head (as some
have suggested.) I'm under the care of my long-time (5 years) physician
here in California and he also thinks it's bacterial, but we don't know
what bacteria. I have not yet been tested for Lyme, and that's being seen
as more of a possibility since I have camped in the woods of New York
state (the #1 Lyme state by a huge margin) for a week or so every summer
since 1998. The usual tests for Lyme are notoriously unreliable (see
seronegative Lyme), and we may look into a newer DNA based test.
Understand that this is still just another guess, though, and it could
easily be something else. My doctor says that I need to see an infectious
disease specialist and has given me a referral to see one on 2/2. This
will be the second ID specialist I've seen.

So, what new information do I have? Well, I already mentioned in November
that I suffered from severe pleuritic chest pain (and X-rays later showed
a thickening of the pleura), followed about a week later by pericarditis
(confirmed by the typical ECG S-ST elevation, and it went through the
usual stages in later ECG tests). The doctors suspected that it was
viral, but although many antibiotics did nothing for me, Amox, Amox/Clav,
Penicillin-VK, and 24 hours of Penicillin G IV all improved my condition
(given some time to start working), and ceasing the antibiotics always
resulted in a relapse beginning a few days later and slowly worsening.
As a result, I was kept on Amox/Clav for a while. I ran out on 12/23, and
most of the doctors I'd seen in the midwest felt that would be enough to
get rid of just about any bacterial infection (assuming from my previous
improvement on some antibiotics that it was one). It amounted to about 5
weeks of amox/clav following a week or so of plain amoxicillin. Around
this time I had a checkup with my doctor here and got a normal ECG, and
felt better. A little bit of residual pain, but nothing too severe. By
then I'd put in the ChangeLog that I was feeling better and had started to
try to catch up on Slackware things that had fallen behind.

Anyway, time to cut to the chase. A week or so later the chest pain began
to come back, but quite slowly. I saw my doctor again after noting an
elevated resting pulse (around 80, where it was normally 55 before any of
this really began in October). Otherwise I seemed to be in better shape.
My weight was up to 150 pounds, in fact. He thought we should wait a week
to see if the pain was just some after effects that would go away, and I
agreed that seemed reasonable. Going back in the amox/clav was not big on
my TODO list, as the side effects can be pretty bad. Meanwhile, I'd been
eliminating everything unhealthy that I could think of from my lifestyle
hoping to get my natural immune system to finish off whatever bugs might
(or might not) remain, eating a primarily vegetarian diet with no coffee
or soda, drinking lots of water, and avoiding sugar. In spite of this, it
wasn't enough to cure me. I saw him again at the beginning of this year,
doing somewhat worse but it was decided to wait it out a little longer.
By a few days ago I had almost no energy, I was looking at a resting pulse
over 110, and was finding it hard to make it up (or down) the stairs (even
one slow step at a time), and waking up sweating and short of breath
again. These symptoms built up slowly and steadily since the last week of
December. I went back to the doctor again, who put me on Zithromax (a
macrolide antibiotic, which is a class the "shotgun" hadn't been loaded
with yet), and after a couple of days of that I have a resting pulse of
70, and less pain (except for my stomach, which the pills aren't too kind
on). It's no miracle yet, though (and I wouldn't expect one after just a
couple of days). However, it does seem to be working fast (about as well
as the brief Pen G IV in November did). My hope is that the ID guy will
be able to get a handle on this and that we'll know what it is and what
the best treatment is. Otherwise, if they have to keep guessing at what
to do, I hope to get a sufficient treatment to finish this off (if this
is, in fact, some strange bacteria), since every failed treatment may make
the infection more antibiotic resistant. Some of the other possibilities
doctors have mentioned would be a tough row to hoe (like heart failure due
to a virus). I'm long through trying to figure out what this is myself,
but I'm happy that it seems to be responding to Zithromax and that my
cardiac function is improving.

Well, that's about it. Didn't want to "go there" again, and I'm not
requesting help. This is just in response to the many concerned people
who are emailing me, and to try to set the record straight so that rumors
of my imminent demise from cancer (or something else) do not abound. I've
been asked to make another comment, so now I have.

Thanks for bearing with me through this, and to everyone who has helped,
listened, or offered advice. Also, special thanks this time to someone
named David from Etobicoke, Ontario who I would love to hear from via
phone or email. The nutritional advice you mailed to me was great.


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Old Unix and Linux 02-11-2005
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Pats doing a little bit better, got release 10.1 out.

Wed Feb 2 18:22:01 PST 2005

Released Slackware 10.1 stable.

Thanks to everyone who helped out with this release, and especially to the
folks at GUS-BR and SlackSec who helped (and continue to help) with handling
security issues for the last few months, to Andreas Liebschner for keeping
the website updated and running smoothly, to Theresa Elam for all her hard
work running store.slackware.com, to the folks on alt.os.linux.slackware for
pointing out bugs and offering suggestions, to the people on ##slackware
that I met on IRC (and some again in later emails), to Justin, Kyle, and Dean
from the Linux User Group of Rochester, MN who I got to hang out with while
"vacationing" at the Mayo Clinic, to everyone who signed my online Christmas
card (one of the nicest things I ever got), and to all the kind and patient
members of the Slackware community. I hope all of you will enjoy this new
Slackware release.

Have fun! :-)

Your Slackware Maintainer,

Sat Jan 22 18:12:37 PST 2005
"Goes to show, you don't ever know"

Hi folks!
I'm going to call this Slackware 10.1 beta 1, because we're at a state
where things are relatively stable. There have been a great deal of
improvements over Slackware 10.0, and it would be best to get this out
before trying to tackle the major changes for Slackware 11.

As far as I know, there are no serious security issues remaining in the
-current tree at this time. There may still be a few image decoder bugs, but
these seem to be crash bugs at worst, if even that. I've yet to hear of any of
them allowing remote access, or privilege escalation. I do not think they are
worth delaying a Slackware release over. I'd like to get to them, but my
condition is preventing this, and so I'm going to tell it like I think it is:
The sky is not really falling, regardless of what you read on BugTraq. If I
am missing anything major though, please mail to security at slackware.com and
let me know about it. As always, I want this to be a high-quality release.

And about my status... I didn't want to have to bring this up again, but
since a lot of people are under the impression that I've recovered and I'm
just fine (and are beginning to make the usual demands of my time ;-), I'd
better clarify what's going on. Especially since I'm not exactly fine.

Back on Thu Nov 25, I posted in the ChangeLog that I thought I had infective
endocarditis (and was promptly flamed for self-diagnosing again). After so
much beating around the bush without getting a referral to a cardiologist, I
finally called one myself and waited the two weeks it takes to get in. He is
a top-notch doctor and heart surgeon (I was very lucky to be able get in to see
him), and with no planting of any suggestion from me whatsoever came to the
conclusion that it seemed to be infective endocarditis. I'm still waiting for
more test results, but it looks like I finally have someone working on my side.
So, lets hope that they get some conclusive diagnostics (I get another echo on
Wednesday), that I make it until they do, and that it's not too late for this
to be treated without a need for valve (or heart) replacement. I've had a
rough couple of weeks (well, months really, but especially the last two weeks),
and I have to say that while it's good to have a near-death experience every
couple of years to keep your head clear and your focus on the important things
in life, having one every morning is too often. With that frequency, they
start to become a distraction. ;-)
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