Issue 13

Issue 13

Security bulletins, computers, and cars

If you’re connected to the internet, you are vulnerable to attacks. I don’t care what operating system, which browser, what firewall, anti-virus, or anti-spyware you have installed—there’s a vulnerability on your system somewhere. Even the tools security researchers use to analyze attacks can be used against their owners as a way of breaking into their machines.

Asterisk

Asterisk is a phone system in software. It can replace large and expensive business phone systems, powering thousands of extensions, or it can help home users save money on long distance. Because it’s implemented in software, it is extremely versatile, easy to customize, and easy to extend.

The need for Asterisk

Edubuntu, Linux Terminal Server and thin clients

You walk into the room. It’s cool and quiet. You see thirty new workstations giving great service. Your cost of hardware was CAD$350 for each workstation, CAD$10 to connect it to an existing 100Mbps LAN, and about CAD$60 for a share of a server in another room (CAD$1 = US$0.87). Your software costs were only some download and CD burn time and forty minutes for installation. Your operating costs are virtually nil. The server runs for months without a reboot. The workstations have nothing but network boot loaders. You back up only one machine, the server.

Introduction to Content Management Systems

In the beginning, the web was simple. You used Mosaic to browse it. You used a text editor to construct pages on it in a language called HTML. If you weren’t a techie, you probably didn’t even know it existed. Then people realised that even non-techies had useful information (“content”) to share. So the Content Management System (CMS) was born.

What is a CMS?

Changing the Ubuntu look

Follow along and watch while I take a stock Ubuntu desktop and transform it something really slick!

Introduction

Window borders, icons, splash images and other graphical user interface (GUI) preferences are largely a subjective thing. Still, it’s nice to have the tools available to transform the GUI into something that is more pleasing to your eye. Fortunately, GNU/Linux makes it relatively easy to mould your desktop environment into whatever suits your taste, and Ubuntu is no exception.

Towards a free matter economy—part 7

If you had a matter economy based on free-licensed design, what would you do with it? Why does this apply to space settlements? Are there practical projects? Who would need them? Why is free-design the right way to go? This final installment in the free matter economy series will attempt to answer these questions by taking a brief tour of the kinds of roadblocks that lead to the concept of applying free software methods to space.

Free software games: Tetris clones

Free software has populated almost every sector of the computer software arena: from office suites to encyclopedias to full operating systems. One genre of computer software that most people overlook when thinking of free software is gaming. The fact is, sites such as Freshmeat have literally thousands of free software and freeware games for a huge variety of operating systems.

Free software has populated almost every sector of the computer software arena

Software patents

Demonstrations over the proposed “Software Patent Directive” in Europe (since rejected by the EU Parliament) were sometimes quite theatrical, and involved at least one “naval battle”. Mikko Rauhala created an ingenious way to counteract the influence of large corporations who were promoting the idea that software patents should be allowed in Europe—he collected pledges of money from the public to offer as bribes to politicians. A “Software Patent Violation Contest” was also organised.

Editorial

I don’t like writing controversial editorials. Controversy is an effective means to get a lot of accesses: most people seem to enjoy reading controversial articles, maybe because they like torturing themselves. (And yes, I used to read a lot of Maureen O’Gara’s articles myself!). Besides, controversy is a double edged sword: there’s very little chance that I would ever go back to those sites!

And yet here I am.

Printing with Ubuntu

Ubuntu makes printing reasonably easy and straightforward. This brief article is for those who need a specific and encouraging step-by-step guide. I hope that this article will not only ensure that you print with ease, but that you have every reason to enjoy a productive GNU/Linux desktop.

Before you begin the installation steps below, connect your printer/s. You need to do this prior to turning your system on. This helps to ensure Ubuntu recognizes how the printer is connected to the system, and it allows Ubuntu to identify the specific printer port.

Most forwarded

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?

Fun articles

Santa Claus - the most successful open source project

It dawned on me the other day, as I was shopping for the dozens of gifts it seems I have to buy every December (this year, I bought myself a holiday accommodation in Denmark, WA!), that Santa Claus is the most successful open source project in history. (Bridget @ Illiterarty would agree with that). Santa Claus is essentially a marketing development that is embodied by everyone who stuffs a sock, gives a gift, hosts a dinner or wishes Merry Christmas over the holiday season.

The next big thing in personal computing

As far as personal computing, there has been a strong shift, in the last few years, towards multimedia contents. It started with digital cameras in phones, around 2003, which is when people really started taking a lot pictures with their phones, and started using their computers to organise them. They also started using MP3 players, and having to manage their music. If pictures and music weren't big and cumbersome enough, people also started managing their movie libraries (even though today a lot of people give up and opt for a cheap satellite TV subscription from sites like http://www.saveontvdirect.com/) instead, as movies still are too big to manage for a lot of people...

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Editorial

When I first started thinking about Free Software Magazine, I was feeling enthusiastic about the dream. I had Dave, Gianluca, and Alan willing to help me, I had established members of the free software community willing to help me out, I had writers volunteering their time and energy for free, and I had a generous offer from OpenHosting for servers, all before I'd proved myself. There was a sense of excitement in the air, and I thought maybe, just maybe, I could make this work.

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