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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.

Create a simple application with Hecl

These days, almost everyone has a cell phone; cell phones keep getting faster, smarter, and more capable, yet relatively few applications exist for them. The Hecl programming language makes it easy to script applications for your cell phone—with just a few lines of code, you can create applications that you can carry with you, everywhere.

Easy cell phone applications with Hecl

Virtualization in OpenSolaris

Recently there’s been a lot of news about OpenSolaris, more specifically in reference to the great progress made by virtualization technologies in it. In this article, I will exam some of these technologies, and compare them with the state of the art on other platforms.


OpenSolaris’ Zones is a mechanism that provides isolated environments with a subset of the host operating system’s privileges, allowing applications to run within the zone without any modifications (Xen is also capable of this). This makes zones useful for server consolidation, load balancing and much more.

Creating a free CD or DVD database and labels in Base

If you’re serious about music or DVDs, at some point you cross the threshold of having more than you can keep track of easily. The box full of index cards has served its purpose; it’s time to move on to storing information about your CDs and DVDs in a database.

Book review: Writer for Writers by Dmitri Popov is a fantastic office suite, finally undermining Microsoft’s monopoly on Office-like software (word processing, presentations, etc.). Out of all of the programs, Writer is by far the most used: writing a document, a letter, or anything else is definitely more common than writing a presentation. This book is all about’s Writer.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

Managing and configuring downloads with KGet

Downloading—no matter what operating system you are using—is ubiquitous. If you’ve been on the internet you will have downloaded something at some point: PDFs, pictures, ISOs, movies, music files, streaming videos to name a few. This article will take a detailed look at KGet, a very versatile GUI download manager for the KDE desktop which is easy to use and has plenty of easily configurable options. It isn’t perfect (but the upcoming KDE4 may rectify that) but we’ll go with what we’ve got and put it through it paces.

SSH beyond the command line

If you’re an experienced administrator, you’ve probably used SSH to remotely access a troublesome box or your personal computer. For those who don’t know: SSH it’s a great way to fiddle with a computer from miles away as if you were sitting at its keyboard, but it’s also just about the simplest and most secure way to configure your computer to let you access its files from anywhere. You can use SSH on nearly every operating system to transfer files to and from your computer over the internet or a LAN.

Is SSH for more than commands?

The "alias" command

You almost certainly have speed dial set up on your home, office and mobile phone. It saves time, ensures against a failing memory and allows you to work smarter.

Devotees of the command line don’t have to be left out in the cold. One of the crown jewels of GNU/Linux is that every user, be he ne’er so base, has at his or her fingertips the kind of power of which even Caligula could not dream. Alright, I’m exaggerating—a little.

Winning the OpenDocument vs. OpenXML war

In August 2005 Peter Quinn, now retired Chief Information Officer of Massachusetts, decided that OpenDocument was the best way to store documents with the guarantee that they would be able to be opened 10, 30, 50 years from now. For a state government, this is particularly important. He led Massachusetts toward OpenDocument and The move, which sparked controversy and ferocious lobbying, is likely to end-up in history books (and while we’re at it, I’ll mention that history books in particular ought to be accessible 50, 100, 1000 years from now!).

A revolutionary idea for tomorrow’s PCs

PCs are complex due to underlying hardware organisation. Consequences of this include difficulty in modifying or upgrading a PC, bloated operating systems and software stability issues. Is there an alternative that wouldn’t involve scrapping everything and starting over? I will describe one possible solution with both its benefits and drawbacks.

What (most) users want

A beginner’s introduction to the GNU/Linux command line, Part II—Managing processes

Your GNU/Linux computer is an amazing machine. It can display images. It can run programs. It can perform dozens of functions all at the same time. How can you keep track of all this activity? By monitoring the processes that your computer runs, and one of the best ways to monitor and control processes is by using the command line.

Why everybody should use GNU/Linux, and how?

GNU/Linux is getting bigger and bigger. Microsoft’s recent patent threats are definitely helping GNU/Linux to gain mainstream popularity. Unfortunately, new users are often confused by why they should actually use GNU/Linux, and how to go about the transition. Hopefully, this article will fill that gap!

Why should everybody use GNU/Linux?

Sun Ultra 20 M2 review

When you are looking for a workstation or new desktop there are a seemingly infinite number of potential solutions available. So where do you start? Well if you are after a powerful AMD based computer then you might want to take a look at the Sun Ultra 20 M2, a workstation based around AMD Opteron 1200 dual-core CPU, and available at a surprisingly reasonable price.

Workstation or desktop?


The desktop computer is not dead, but it’s doomed. Laptops are not dead, but they are doomed. And our mobile phones are going to kill them... sounds unlikely? Well, please read on—and let me know what you think. People have predicted the death of the desktop computer and the death of the laptop many times. These death sentences have often sounded like those religions which predicted the world would end by the year 2000—then the year 2000 came, and the end of the world was then rescheduled for 2004—then 2004 happily came and went—and so on.

Free software philosophy in business

When we enter the world of “free and open source software”, most of us will choose one or the other philosophy. This choice is usually made easy by the people that guide us when we enter this world. We are at a point where the philosophies behind free software, which have been heralded by Richard M. Stallman and others, are threatened; as more people make the jump away from proprietary operating systems, less of them know about these philosophies. Fewer people will weigh the decision for themselves.

What is the difference?


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