Hey USA, Don't Miss the Boat!

Thanks to open minds, Linux is catching on in Panama.

When many folks think of emerging markets for Linux, I'm sure they look at the success stories of DreamWorks and many others. While these may be good markets for Linux, they're not the only ones. In fact, the real emerging markets are outside US borders in third-world countries, such as Panama, where I'm presently living. When I arrived in Panama, almost no one I had contact with had even heard of, much less tried, Linux. That's changing rapidly. It started slow, but is growing faster every day; a few firewalls here, then a few mail servers. Now, especially with the help of some specialized distros like Knoppix (www.knopper.de), which allows people to test-run Linux without buying a new drive or wiping out their old OS, Linux is taking over the point of sale and desktop strongholds. It's going slower in the US, where the entrenched mindset is hard to break through, but here, the minds are as open as the wallets are empty.

My four- and seven-year-old daughters both log in to Linux to surf the Net and play games, and they have no clue any other OS exists. The Barbie.com and CartoonNetwork.com/PowerPuff Girls web sites are among their favorites. And Galaga and Gcompris keep them entertained off-line. Don't let America loose the edge; your kids can learn to love Linux too. So when thinking of emerging markets, think young and global.

Genmenu projects.gtk.mine.nu/genmenu

This Bash script will generate a menu for Blackbox, Fluxbox, Enlightenment or Window Maker. You don't need to be root to use it, because the edits will be written to your $HOME directory. I do suggest you make a backup first, as Genmenu will clobber your old file at the moment (though that may be fixed by the time you read this). If you know Bash scripting, you can easily change this script to look for your favorites (or not look for some others). Using it could help maintain a large number of systems uniformly, if it's run during each login. Requires: Bash.

HTun htun.runslinux.net

If you need to bypass a firewall that has only one or two open ports, but you need to connect to other systems on different ports, HTun may be your answer. You will need to run HTun on an internet-connected system (your home system perhaps), but you can create a VPN and use your home system as a proxy to reach those systems not accessible from behind your firewall. You'll want to take some security measures to make sure your internet-connected system isn't abused, but this is a handy tool for working around restrictive firewall policies. Requires: libpthread, glibc.

Shared Recording Server oktober.stc.cx/source/erec.html

erec is designed for raw audio streams, and it works by attaching to a sound device and acting as a front end. As it listens, it opens port 6130 so other programs (even multiple programs) can attach and listen to whatever sounds are coming from your sound card. Requires: libargh (included), libstdc++, libm, glibc.

Simple Expense Manager www.angelfire.com/tn3/petbath

This expense manager is so easy to use, you might use it solely for that reason. Until now I added my expenses into my accounting program, but sometimes that's too hard to do every day. While these transactions still need to be added to my accounting program, I can do it as aggregated totals at the end of the week or month instead of fighting with it daily. Requires: Perl, Perl module Apache::Htpasswd.

ProBIND probind.sourceforge.net

I'm always looking for better ways to handle DNS administration (among other things). This particular application does a good job, although it is lacking in the security area if you have multiple users updating only their DNS server. It works extremely well if either users are all trusted or only one person is updating many zones. Another drawback is the requirement to have the PHP CGI module, the standalone interpreter. But if you have a lot of DNS zones to handle, I'd look closely at this application. Requires: MySQL, PHP with MySQL (both as a module and as a standalone interpreter), Apache, Perl, Perl module Net::DNS, OpenSSH (optional).

graphical Process Statistics www.gps.seul.org

Among the choices of software I looked at three years ago were DHCPXD, still a great choice for a DHCP client, and gPS. A lot of good software exists that will show you what you need to know about processes running on your system; the ps and pstree CLI utilities come to mind. But if you want to see something different using CLI, you have to rerun it, and gPS will change dynamically. You even can watch processes on other systems by running an included remote gPS poller on the remote systems. Requires: libgtk, libgdk, libgmodule, libglib, libdl, libXi, libXext, libX11, libpthread, libstdc+ +, libm, glibc. Until next month.

David A. Bandel (david@pananix.com) is a Linux/UNIX consultant currently living in the Republic of Panama. He is coauthor of Que Special Edition: Using Caldera OpenLinux.


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