Standing Up to Hurricane Ike. . . with Linux, of Course

As some of us at Linux Journal clean our yards of debris, repair our broken windows, and make do with spotty internet access, power outages, and grocery shortages, we thought we'd share a story about the silver lining in the reality that is big, bad hurricane Ike.

All of us at Linux Journal's Houston office are just fine, and we have found ways to stay in touch with each other and our community. We have used whatever technology is available to us to exchange information and coordinate our efforts. Tools like SMS messaging, twitter, and web-enabled phones make post-hurricane clean-up and efforts to return to normal so much easier than they have ever been in the past.

One online hub of information has proven essential to Houstonians and the rest of the world to stay informed about evacuations, power restoration procedures, photo galleries detailing damage, and much more related to getting past a disaster of this magnitude. Our local newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, has a pretty fantastic online edition that has handled this all gracefully, and kept us all as sane as possible during the whole ordeal. Those few of us with power, combined with mobile users and many millions of eyes from around the world have descended on Chron.com and increased their traffic almost six-fold, but the site has not even experienced a hiccup. We have friends over at "the Chron," and we'd like to give them a huge shout-out for their efforts.

I spoke with Steven Evatt who is responsible for the Linux servers that keep Chron.com up and running, and their story is truly impressive. Steven stayed at "the bunker" north of town to make sure the site stayed up throughout the storm, and the rest of the available staff who were not flooded-in reported to work as soon as the storm passed to make sure the site was constantly up and updated with essential information.

Chron.com expects to hit 17 million page views today, up from their usual 3-4 million, and their use of open source technology is a big part of that. Steven Evatt believes "open source technology has allowed them to rapidly scale," and all of this with the "skeleton crew" that was available to report to work. As a result, the site has been available to many extra users without consequence, which is not typically the case with local media during such a disaster.

We want to congratulate these guys on weathering the storm so gracefully.

In the meantime, Linux Journal is still business as usual, though we may be out of the office for a few days. Thanks for all the well-wishes!

Linux Journal Office - closed after Hurricane Ike

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Katherine Druckman is webmistress at LinuxJournal.com. You might find her chatting on the IRC channel or on Twitter.

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still no power here

agustin's picture

I hang out Panera Bread for free wifi with my dell b130 with Ubuntu. Just watching dvds, surfing and getting in touch via twitter. Got some dvd's backup iso via k9copy mounted for viewing pleasure. Hacked my crackberry so I can upload more mp3s and make USB charging works with Linux. Panera blocks tinyurl but found some ruby hacks to reverse it and get the long url. I heard Hooters also has free wifi maybe I should drop there later and grab some wings.

Story ratings

Anonymous's picture

It's interesting to see that the default story rating on Linuxjournal is awesome (5). Inertia rules.

It would be more interesting to see what the ratings on stories would be if the default rating was randomized to each individual page load/visit. And to see analysis/graphs over time averaging all the ratings entered by users depending on what the default setting was according to each visit.

no default

Webmistress's picture

There is no default rating. It does nothing until you hover over the stars and click something. If you have javascript disabled, you will get a drop-down menu, but a very tiny fraction of our visitors have javascript disabled.

Katherine Druckman is webmistress at LinuxJournal.com. You might find her on Twitter or at the Southwest Drupal Summit

Thanks Katherine!

David Herrold's picture

Thanks for the shout-out, Katherine. Steve mentioned your article earlier today. I hope everyone at the Linux Journal and the rest of Houston weathered Hurricane Ike without harm.

It's been a wild ride.

What are they using?

Anonymous's picture

I'd like to see an article in November's issue about chron.com and what they are using (including CMS) and how they're keeping the site going through the storm of new traffic. How they adapted the site quickly with the new content, for instance the power outage and gas station databases.

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