Alan Berg's articles

Book review: Pro Tomcat 6 by Matthew Moodie

The Apache Tomcat server is the most well known and deployed Servlet container for dynamic Java based web applications. Pro Apache Tomcat 6 by Matthhew Moodie (edited by Kunal Mittal and published by Apress) explains in exacting, systematic and well covered detail how to manage the latest version of this high quality, popular free software product.

Beginners guide to database administration tools

Welcome to an introduction for the beginner to the basic manipulation of the MySQL database with free software. The purpose of this article is to show how universally straightforward it is to get started with installing and applying a high-grade enterprise ready database like MySQL, and to learn how to manipulate it via numerous free software approaches.

Book review: Practical Ruby for System Administration by André Ben Hamou

Practical Ruby for System Administration, which was written by Andre Ben Hamou and published by Apress, is a lightning introduction to this modern scripting language and is a reasonably detailed, example based, explanation of the potential strength of Ruby for System Administrators and thus the enterprise.

Book review: Virtual Honeypots: From Botnet Tracking to Intrusion Detection by Niels Provos, Thorsten Holz

Honeypots look like victim systems waiting or searching for malware and other nefarious attacks, registering the enemy's practices in high-resolution gory, blood-ridden detail. Virtualization allows one system to act as a network of disparate victim OS’s and services. Security experts can observe attacks live or stored for detailed analysis, learn the methodology of Dr Evil and generate statistics for internet wide attacks.

Book review: SQL for MySQL Developers: A Comprehensive Tutorial and Reference by Rick F. van der Lans

MySQL is one of the dominant players in the database market—a solid pillar in the Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP or LAMP stack. SQL for MySQL Developers, written by Rick F. van der Lans and published by Addison Wesley covers all significant topics of SQL with specific references to the MySQL dialect.

The book’s cover The book’s cover

Create your online project site, start to finish, with Sakai

Sakai is an online Collaboration Learning Environment, CLE for short. Indiana University has proactively deployed it for 100,000 students, and over 120 other Universities are involved with their own local deployments or test beds. Clearly, this well received application is worth checking out and taking for a vigorous and thorough test run.

Book review: Linux Appliance Design

I am not paranoid... honest, but we are all surrounded, surrounded by consumer appliances such as wireless network routers, media centers and even some clever fridges and microwaves. I am even sure that my elder sons Robosapien is out to get me! At least the book Linux Appliance Design: A Hands-On Guide to Building Linux Appliances by the experienced Engineers (and now writers) Bob Smith, John Hardin, Graham Philips, and Bill Piece allows us to know our hidden enemies and build better appliance mousetraps.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

Book review: Linux Programming by Example by Arnold Robbins

One positive example of a book that is ageless when measured against internet time is Linux Programming by Example by Arnold Robbins and published by Prentice Hall. Don’t let the 2004 publishing date fool you, the book is just as useful today as it was all those long, long three years ago. A C biased book on the subject of the fundamental core API’s such as file and memory management within GNU/Linux and based on the explanation of free software core commands, this is a powerful and valid helper for needy learners of the fundamentals.

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Book review: Qmail Quickstarter by Kyle Wheeler

Qmail is an old, well-written, reliable security friendly email server that has proudly stood the test of time and corrosive use. Architecturally solid, with its components divided across workflow with numerous configuration files, the beginner system administrator needs a gentle push up the slopes of learning. Qmail Quickstarter: Install, Set Up, and Run your own Email Server by Kyle Wheeler and published by PACKT has been concisely written for the learning task at hand.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

Sakai welcomed to Amsterdam

The 7th Sakai Conference took place from the 12-14 June in the Movenpick Hotel Amsterdam.

Some of you newer readers to my random ranting may be asking what Sakai actually is? Well Sakai is a rather excellent and rapidly transforming Collaboration and Learning Environment. With a solid history of rapid release cycles, ever evolving functional requirements and delivered features, it has a solid set of architectural principles supporting scalability.

Desktop diagramming with Dia and Kivio

Don't let the simplicity of use fool you. Both Kivio and Dia, two free software diagramming tools, are very efficient at what they do. If you need to design a complex flow chart or create a no-fuss UML diagram then you could do a lot worse than to choose either of these packages. The tools have 90% of the expected functionality with only 10% of the hassle and fuss that more complex and unnecessarily feature rich proprietary diagramming tools deliver. The learning curve is small and the end result is potentially professional.

Book review: AJAX: Creating Web Pages with Asynchronous JavaScript and XML by Edmond Woychowsky

AJAX is the broadest of broad acronyms for a series of technologies that enable fashionably dynamic Web 2.0 applications. Edmond Woychowsky’s valid, technically correct and humorous book AJAX: Creating Web Pages with Asynchronous JavaScript and XML, published by Prentice Hall, plots a careful and viable path through the underlying complexity and smoke.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

Book review: Practical Subversion, Second Edition by Daniel Berlin and Garrett Rooney

Subversion is a modern free software Revision Control System (RCS) that the Subversion community’s developers have designed from the bottom up to be more efficient in form than CVS. Subversion has a structured architecture and has other notable advantages such as the ability to function efficiently with binary files and the relatively low cost of tagging and branching. Yet thankfully, Subversion still manages to maintain a workflow similar to CVS, thus potentially simplifying the learning curve.

Book review: Pro Open Source Mail: Building an Enterprise Mail Solution by Curtis Smith

If you want to build a realistic mail infrastructure with strengthened defenses against the highly selfish spammer, then Pro Open Source Mail: Building an Enterprise Mail Solution, written by Curtis Smith and published by Apress, provids a free software approach to get you there. Based on a Red Hat platform using well-known and reliable free software, this book offers a well-rounded recipe for success. If you want Webmail, Virus checking, mailing lists, content filtering and a host of other related services for your enterprise then this is most likely the book for you.

Book review: Wicked Cool Java by Brian D. Eubanks

The range of Java related libraries and frameworks are immense. It is a challenge for motivated Java practitioners to keep in contact with this constantly varying and exponentially increasing landscape. Challenging oneself with the new freshens one’s own ideas and helps the everyday programmer or hobbyist to adopt the right pose and attitude to constant learning. Wicked Cool Java, code bits, open-source libraries, and project ideas authored by Brian D.

The free Tron Universe—Armagetron

After all these years, I still remember the sounds and primary colours associated with the climatic lightcycle scene in the 1982 Walt Disney film TRON. As the noise-ridden cycles raced to certain destruction, synthetic electronic reverberations could be felt throughout the whole audience and my bones at the cinema. Sure, since my long forgotten childhood there were a couple of well-made arcade games.

MINIX: what is it, and why is it still relevant?

MINIX, as originated by Andy Tanenbaum, is an operating system that has its roots and heart in academia as a tool that teaches you how kernels really should work. Recently, however, with the advent of version three of this rock solid OS, the focus is on making a production ripe embedded distribution. Being POSIX compatible with a Kernel of 3800 lines of code and a unique approach to handling drivers, MINIX 3 is well worth the effort to review for readiness.

A very brief history


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