Hacking

Hacking

Was BRL-CAD the tool I was looking for?

It seems like it’s been almost half a year since I wrote TFME4: Tools of the Trade in which I explored the serious options for 3D CAD on GNU/Linux, and didn’t think we had much. I advocated building something on top of Blender, which may still be a decent idea.

But I’m starting to think I gave really short shrift to the US Army Research Lab’s BRL-CAD, which has recently released a new version (7.8.0) with support for Windows and a number of user interface and modeling tool improvements.

Removing sendmail

Sendmail has a terrible reputation for security. While the latest releases are very good, past releases have been less than secure and that is where the reputation has come from.

Alternatives, like Postfix and qmail are proving to be much more popular, and have better history on security. All of this has led to Sendmail being removed from NetBSD (that's a digg link, used because some of the comments are worth reading).

A day in the life of a MySQL documentation team member

As I mentioned here, I’m a member of the documentation team at MySQL, a job I started back in April. I’ve just completed a major tranche of documentation, and thought it would be interesting to let you guys know exactly what happens in a typical day for a member of the documentation team.

serverResponse and light weight XML web services

With the latest GNU Telephony releases of GNU Bayonne, I have experimented with and introduced a new lightweight kind of XML based web service that I call serverResponse. This was meant to offer something functionally capable of supporting automated remote procedure callable services, but that is far simpler to operate and requires far less code to support than SOAP or even XMLRPC.

A view of ODF from the other side (UPDATED)

I have, in a past incarnation, worked with Microsoft’s Office products closely in a professional scenario. To this end, I was subscribed to an electronic newsletter then called “Woody’s Office Watch”, and now simply “Office Watch”. This is run as a newsletter for users of Microsoft’s Office Suite, but it is independant and not affiliated with Microsoft in any way. In fact, they have no problems laying into Microsoft hard when the boys in Seattle mess up and inconvenience their users.

Creating a managed website—Part 2

Free software Content Management Systems (CMS) are capable of running most websites these days. Indeed, low initial costs and strong community-based support mean that many sites which can’t afford a proprietary CMS can now benefit from the facilities a CMS provides. In the first part of this article I looked at how a CMS might help and what you need to do to define your site’s target audience and structure. Now I’ll get down to the nitty gritty of selecting a CMS, installing it and setting up and promoting your site.

How do I choose the CMS?

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What CMSs are available?

Secure email servers from scratch with FreeBSD 6 (Part 2)

In the last article we parted ways after configuring a base FreeBSD system, enabling it with upgrades via cvsup and portsupgrade, and securing it with a simple ipfw2 firewall. The previous article created a solid foundation which this article will build on, covering the configuration of Postfix, amavisd-new, ClamAV, SpamAssassin, MySQL and finally SquirrelMail for web mail.

Building a new media lab: advice needed

Greetings, everyone. We’re currently in the process of planning a new media lab for our English department. We have a budget of about $50,000, though there are hints that we could get more if we could make a compelling enough case. At any rate, the lab’s purpose will be to give students the chance to produce some really outstanding new media projects. These will likely range from website production to simple digital videos and on to fully interactive media (e.g., flash movies, videogames).

Using awk

Awk (and Gawk, the GNU alternative) are as old as the hills (well, as old as Unix) and remain as one of the original programmable elements of the Unix operating system, along with the various shells (Bourne shell, Korn shell and C shell, in the original Unix editions).

I’m a tester of Gawk, responsible for checking the compatibility of new releases on different platforms, a job I first started when working on the BeOS and which I now do for Mac OS X, various Linux alternatives, Solaris SPARC and Intel and any other environment I happen to have available.

Apache Tomcat faster on Linux than Windows

Web Performance, Inc. has published a performance report comparing tests of Apache Tomcat on Windows and Linux, with interesting results. The report found that Linux was able to handle about 32% more users than Windows on identical hardware with identical test conditions.

What I love about this report is the level of detail they provide about their methodology and the data. They provide all the information needed to duplicate their results. From the press release:

I'm finally learning procmail

The truth is, I never learned much about email, nor really ever wanted to. I’ve been using it since the 1980s, and for most of that time, it just worked. So I took it for granted, just like the telephone. I spent lots of time learning how web pages work, for example, probably because that was new and exciting and visual. But not email.

Well, no longer.

Geronimo, an open source Java application server

I recently spoke with Bruce Snyder of the Geronimo project about this open source Java app server under the Apache Software Foundation.

My favorite quote from Bruce:

“I have a saying I've used for years that I think sums it up: With open source, we come for the code, but we stay for the people!”

See the full interview here...

Creating a free wikibook for college students

As a college professor committed to the principles of the free software movement, I frequently find myself wondering how I can promote the cause from within the university setting. One obvious way is to have students read works by Richard Stallman and Lawrence Lessig—and have them use free software alternatives whenever possible. However, I still felt there had to a less propagandistic, more subtle (and effective) way.

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