Picante shell: pipes

Spicy food should cause chemical burns, or spontaneous human combustion. Your mouth should feel as if it’s tangled with an angry badger. Capillaries in your nose should burst. Your gut should sue for punitive damages. If not, your food just isn’t spicy enough.

At least, that’s how I feel. So, when I say things like, “Here, try some of these mild command-line recipes; they’re really quite tasty”, you might keep that in mind. One man’s “mild” is another man’s, “I think you’ve poisoned me”.

If you are ready, settle in, dish up, and keep a nice lager handy. You’ll probably need it before we’re done.

ODF/OOXML technical white paper

I was asked by the UK Action Group of the Open Document Format Alliance to write a white paper on the technical differences between ODF and OOXML. After much agonizing, correcting, having others correct my mistakes, suggestions, changes and drafts I still have got something that may be alright to be previewed by all. The actual documents are in ftp://officeboxsystems.com/odfa_ukag both as a “PDF” and an “ODT” (Open Document Format).

The following is a transcribed version of the white paper. Although it has all the Free Software Magazine formatting constraints which means that the information is not as clearly presented, so therefore I recommend you to download the document from the above URL. It is here primary for reference purposes.


Learn some command line: using du, df, file, find to make your life easier

I love the command line. If the command line were a dog, it would be a hard-headed labrador: big and somewhat intimidating, but really kind of even-tempered and friendly once she gets to know you.

I just compared the command line to my dog Roscoe. I love them both, and they both frustrate me.

I can't do much with Roscoe, but I can help out a bit with the command line. And so allow me to introduce four of my favorite utilities: df, du, file, and find.

Instant GNU/Linux time machine

You never forget your first.

Whether it's your first car, or your first significant other, or your first day of college, they say you never forget your first. That's not always true, of course, but I do remember my first: Softlanding Linux Systems, one of the earliest GNU/Linux distributions, and progenitor of the Slackware distribution. It came on a few dozen floppy images, and took forever to install.

Jump into the Astonishing GNU/Linux Time Machine, and via the magic of qemu and iBiblio, you too can experience the earliest days of GNU/Linux. It'll only take an hour. I'll have you back by supper.


By many people, sending and receiving faxes on GNU/Linux is considered to be equivalent to using HylaFAX. And while I agree that HylaFAX is a nice piece of software with a nice set of features, I found that sometimes it can be rather overwhelming to set up. If you need some of its more advanced features, such as its client-server protocol that’s used for Windows clients, then HylaFAX is a great choice. But if you don’t need all that, then I believe mgetty is a much wiser choice...


Open voting and cookies

As the Presidential election year in the USA is approaching, it's time to remind everyone again about election fraud and how important it is to push for free software in electronic voting machines. Voting machine software is primarily manufactured by private companies who use proprietary software. This immediately brings up the possibility that backdoors are built into the software to allow people "in the know" to change vote tallies and directly influence elections.

Ruby, a real gem of FOSS

Most of us just use FOSS, but somebody has to develop and write the code. And the language that's used greatly affects the outcome. If you haven't tried Ruby yet, you owe it to yourself to begin playing with it. If you value joy, if you value simplicity, if you value beauty, then you owe it to yourself to learn Ruby, the emerging jewel of FOSS.

iPhone vs. OpenMoko: free software on your cell phone

Apple's big announcement yesterday was the long-anticipated iPhone, an Apple-designed PDA with GSM capabilities. Granted, many modern phones these days are PDAs with GSM, and Apple's entry is very, very beautiful. It sports a large touchscreen, a lot of memory (with both 4G and 8G models), and that patented (literally) Apple touch.

While following the announcement, though, I had a feeling of deja vu all over again. Something about the description of the iPhone was strangely familiar.

Graphics drivers: where they are, where they come from, where they are going

I appreciate NVIDIA’s existing support for free software operating systems: their drivers are various, quite full featured, and they do upgrade the source of their minimalist free “nv” driver for those platforms they don’t support fully.

But where do the others stand?

_The matrix in this article has been superceded by the one in _this article.

Integrated telephony and the roadmap to Bayonne 3.0

I have noticed many of our sister free software projects have recently incorporated features commonly associated with Bayonne. Asterisk 1.4, for example, introduces a native scripting language. The excellent community fork of Asterisk, OpenPBX, had planned to use embedded io for this purpose.

Backing up your system with free software

You've spent hours installing,configuring, and tweaking your system into perfection. Everydevice isworking properly, every patch applied, every last last application isup to date, and your system is contently purring like a lion with abelly full of wildebeest. This is a prime time to savean image of your system in case anything screws it up. Thereare manycommercial solutions available, but what free utilities will properlyback up your system?

Wait, what's an image?

Who needs the command line? (Well, actually, we all do)

As you might have guessed this is going to be a brazen and shameless plug for the command line. I write it to throw in my tuppence-worth after my own Linux experiences. I am also concerned about a new generation of users coming to GNU/Linux without a proper understanding of the underlying reasons for its superiority over Windows but this not a blow by blow comparison.

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

Securing NFS

NFS is a network protocol with which many UNIX-administrators have a love/hate relationship. On the one hand, it’s the ideal protocol if you need to export a filesystem from a UNIX-like system. On the other, it has a bit of a reputation of being insecure. Since a rogue system can just tell an NFS server that “hey, I’m representing a user with UID 1000, please remove all the files in my home directory”, this reputation may not be totally undeserved.

Or is it?

Authenticating on the network

Usually, I get annoyed at having to authenticate myself to each and every service I set up; after all, my passwords are the same everywhere, since I make sure of that myself. On Windows, I wouldn’t have to do that; once I log in, Windows is able to communicate credentials to each and every service that asks for them. But something similar is impossible on GNU/Linux, right? Wrong.

Single sign-on

Welcome ippimail.com!

Being the founder of Free Software Magazine means that I receive amazing (or I should say amusing) amounts of email that ask us to announce the imminent release of some fantastic project that will change the world. I always answer that I will be happy to talk about the fantastic project once it’s been launched, and I can actually see something.

Nobody ever calls back.

Even worse, when I go back and check what the project status is, I often find that the “launch” never happened, or that it did and that’s pretty much where the project stands—a few months later!


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