Free Software Magazine: articles on free software

Free Software Magazine: articles on free software

Atop, when you need to know exactly what's happening at the system-resource level

June 29, 2015

System resources are always limited, no matter what type of computer or server you're using. You never seem to have enough RAM, CPU threads, or disk I/O. High level tools like top, htop,sar, iostat, or vmstat do help, but they only give you the 10,000 foot overview of resource usage. They don't allow you to see what part of which program or process is eating up too much RAM or which part is creating race conditions on lock files.

A much more powerful took is "Atop", a powerful monitor program that allows you to see system-level counters concerning utilization of CPU and memory/swap, as well as see disk I/O and network utilization counters at the system level -- in real time or historically. It also allows you to store raw counters in a file for long-term analysis on system levels and process levels, as well as seeing resource consumption for each thread within a process of a multi-processor program.

Sounds exciting? Read on.

Opinions

It's 2015, writing a simple 6 screen application is still too hard

June 15, 2015

Last night I saw a message from a friend of mine in Facebook: she is trying to organise a baby sitting community where people who trust each other will exchange "tokens" when they babysit each other's children. My first reaction was something I just couldn't resist: I drew up a normalised bunch of tables (6, to be precise) which will organise carers, children homes, and bookings. I even wrote the server side part of the story as a bunch of REST calls (it took me 2 hours in total). Then... I realised that giving an interface to my data was way, way harder than it should be.

End users

Atop, when you need to know exactly what's happening at the system-resource level

June 29, 2015

System resources are always limited, no matter what type of computer or server you're using. You never seem to have enough RAM, CPU threads, or disk I/O. High level tools like top, htop,sar, iostat, or vmstat do help, but they only give you the 10,000 foot overview of resource usage. They don't allow you to see what part of which program or process is eating up too much RAM or which part is creating race conditions on lock files.

A much more powerful took is "Atop", a powerful monitor program that allows you to see system-level counters concerning utilization of CPU and memory/swap, as well as see disk I/O and network utilization counters at the system level -- in real time or historically. It also allows you to store raw counters in a file for long-term analysis on system levels and process levels, as well as seeing resource consumption for each thread within a process of a multi-processor program.

Sounds exciting? Read on.

Hacking

How to protect your GNU/Linux computer from remote attacks with Fail2ban

June 16, 2015

Governments around the world are hacking into any computer that they can find. They are not just targeting large companies, but any computer that has information that they can sell. Is there anything on your computer that some hacker could sell for money? When was the last time you looked at your /var/log/auth.log file?

Games

Secret Maryo Chronicles: a wonderful GNU/Linux game

June 11, 2015

For those people who grew up on the "classic", 2D version of Super Mario, and -- why not -- those who like simple, but very refined games, Secret Maryo Chronicles is not to be missed. Mind you, it's not Mario, but Maryo; however, it's just as much fun.

If you are familiar with Super Mario, you will find right at home here: you will find turtles, mushrooms, nasty plants, pipes, and many other elements that are typical of this classic game.

The game is released under the GPL v.3; so, it's fully free for you to download, play, and -- why not -- change, also thanks to the built-in world editor.

Interviews

Interview with Mikeal Rogers: Node.js fork that ended up as a giant, unifying step forward

June 18, 2015

Node.js is the software that allows you to run Javascript to create amazingly powerful server-side applications by using Google's V8 Javascript Engine. As a Node developer myself, I have always felt frustrated by seeing that Joyent, the company behind Node.s, was extremely conservative in terms of upgrading node to use the latest V8 version; the project was also struggling to get developers to actually contribute to code. This is why Fedor Indutny did the unthinkable: forked node and created IO.js. Today, the two projects are uniting possibly offering developers the best of both worlds.

Humour

The Bizarre Cathedral - 100

October 13, 2011

Latest from the Bizarre Cathedral.

Reviews

Using kdesvn on a multimedia project

March 9, 2013

This has been a very busy year for our "Lunatics" project (a free-film/free-culture animated web series about the first settlers on the Moon). As with many software projects, we keep our assets in a version-control system -- specifically "Subversion". In principle, Subversion does everything we need. The command line interface, however, does not make the right things easy for us (it's far too obsessed with parsing text files, which are incidental to our project, and it balks when given binary data files (which are essential). To keep a handle on the file tree, we need something a little smarter, and I've recently adopted "kdesvn" to do that job. This seems to solve the biggest annoyances.

Announcements

The rebirth of Free Software Magazine

April 12, 2015

When I started Free Software Magazine, over 10 years ago, it was a very different world. Magazines still mattered, Facebook was a primitive site for university students, Digg was about to become a huge new site (before disappearing a few years later), and... did I mention that Magazines still mattered?

Most forwarded

Free Me: a DVD about free culture and free software

A DVD made with Blu-ray DVD Ripper that comes with lots of great examples of Free Culture which plays in your DVD player, with even more examples when you put it in your computer – including a GNU/Linux Live CD. The idea is simple: help to get the word out about Free Culture, including Free Software, by showing off what's already been achieved; the thing is, we need your help!

Interview with Dave Mohyla, of DTIDATA

Dave Mohyla is the president and founder of dtidata.com, a hard drive recovery facility based in Tampa, Florida.

TM: Where are you based? What does your company do?
DTI Data recovery is based in South Pasadena, Florida which is a suburb of Tampa. We have been here for over 10 years. We operate a bio-metrically secured class 100 clean room where we perform hard drive recovery on all types of hard disks, from laptop hard drives to multi drive RAID systems.

Hosting service favorites: Gallery

Sharing photos has become one of the more popular methods of sharing information on the internet. A wide range of different people, groups and organisations are using photo sharing as a way both to promote their activities or simply to share their photos with friends and family. Some companies, for example, are using online photo systems to show product shots (like the shop for electric bikes in Perth, others to enable users and customers to provide examples of the company products in use. Many professionals are using photo software to advertise and show off their expertise and portfolios.

Most emailed

Free Open Document label templates

If you’ve ever spent hours at work doing mailings, cursed your printer for printing outside the lines on your labels, or moaned “There has got to be a better way to do this,” here’s the solution you’ve been looking for. Working smarter, not harder! Worldlabel.com, a manufacture of labels offers Open Office / Libre Office labels templates for downloading in ODF format which will save you time, effort, and (if you want) make really cool-looking labels

Creating a user-centric site in Drupal

A little while ago, while talking in the #drupal mailing list, I showed my latest creation to one of the core developers there. His reaction was "Wow, I am always surprised what people use Drupal for". His surprise is somehow justified: I did create a site for a bunch of entertainers in Perth, a company set to use Drupal to take over the world with Entertainers.Biz.

Update: since writing this article, I have updated the system so that the whole booking process happens online. I will update the article accordingly!

So, why, why do people and companies develop free software?

More and more people are discovering free software. Many people only do so after weeks, or even months, of using it. I wonder, for example, how many Firefox users actually know how free Firefox really is—many of them realise that you can get it for free, but find it hard to believe that anybody can modify it and even redistribute it legally.

When the discovery is made, the first instinct is to ask: why do they do it? Programming is hard work. Even though most (if not all) programmers are driven by their higher-than-normal IQs and their amazing passion for solving problems, it’s still hard to understand why so many of them would donate so much of their time to creating something that they can’t really show off to anybody but their colleagues or geek friends.

Sure, anybody can buy laptops, and just program. No need to get a full-on lab or spend thousands of dollars in equipment. But... is that the full story?