Current_Issue.tar.gz - When All Else Fails—Amateur Radio, the Original Open-Source Project
“When all else fails”—in 2003, the Amateur Radio Relay League used this as the motto for Field Day, the annual demonstration of its capabilities to the public. It rapidly became the touch phrase for the Amateur Radio Emergency Service—probably the most public of all aspects of Amateur Radio and the operators that are usually first to respond in an emergency. To me, it also is the quintessential definition of open source. When something is missing in a commercial system, we look to open source for the solution. A better operating system? A better management platform? How about a better ERP system? Open source has become the answer. But, what about a better communications system? When we think open source, our minds naturally turn to software, usually *NIX-based, running on Linux. What most people tend not to think about is the open-source nature of Amateur Radio. While operators most often are seen working in emergency situations, many of the modern conveniences we have today—cell phones, satellites, wireless devices—were developed and tested by radio amateurs.
What's Amateur Radio? Have you heard of ham radio? It's the same thing. Although some revel in the term, get a group of operators together, and you will find more stories for the origins of the term ham radio than operators. But, because the Federal Communications Commission calls us Amateurs Radio operators, we should call ourselves that too. Of course, this is not amateur in the rookie sense of the term, but in the non-pecuniary sense. Many consider us communication professionals.
Amateur Radio has been around almost since Marconi invented the thing—hmm, was Marconi a ham? Feel free to discuss that among yourselves. Early on, Marconi's invention was put to the test, and ever since, when disaster strikes, Amateur Radio operators have been some of the first to respond, providing communications support when there is little or no communications infrastructure. Before we can talk about it, however, we need some basic language, and like most technologies, Amateur Radio has a language all its own. This month, Dan Smith gets us started by explaining some of the shorthand we use.
Suppose I want to send data from one point to another without a wire between them? Shawn just passed me an 802.11a/b/g/n device, and we are off to the races, right? But, what if there is no network to plug it in to? Gary Robinson shows us how to pass data without an 802.11a/b/g/n device using your PC, Fldigi and an Amateur Radio transceiver. This is one of the ways that FEMA and other aid agencies send supply lists, like how many cell towers need to be brought into an area during the early stages of an emergency when the only ones passing messages are the Amateurs.
Got a GPS? How about 30,000 runners, more than half of whom will not make it to the end of the marathon, whether it is the Seattle, Boston, New York or Marine Corps Marathons? Using Xastir, an open-source version of APRS, a GPS and a rig, you can tell where the straggler bus is to pick up the runners who do not finish. You will find Amateur Radio operators at each of these marathons providing communications support. Curt Mills, Steve Stroh and Laura Mills take us through setting up and configuring Xastir so you can use it at your next event.
This month, however, we are not all about Amateur Radio. Dave Taylor tells us how to automate Twitter feed responses with a command-line bot (which begs the question, how many of Dave's responses are not automated?). Over at the forge, Reuven puts down his mallet and introduces us to Cucumber, an integration testing framework for Ruby, complete with vegetable jokes.
It looks like Kyle Rankin needs to buy a vowel as Dr hjkl dives into the Vimperator. (Sounds like what I did with my Christmas turkey, actually.) But seriously, I think Kyle has it in for the humble mouse as he shows you how to browse in Firefox using your keyboard.
We also have a security roundup, starting with Mick Bauer's discussion of the potential threats for the new year. Dirk Elmendorf tackles security from the amateur position (think Amateur Radio, not rookie). And, just to make sure you have all the security tools we can give you, Vadim Kurland describes what is new in Firewall Builder 3.0. Finally, Federico Kereki helps us implement some port-knocking security with knockd, and Doc Searls has the last word, opining on the control of one's personal data.
2010 is going to be another big year for virtualization, and Matthew Hoskins dives into virtual appliances with Xen on Linux. I can think of several projects for this technology already!
Whew, it's a jam-packed issue! Whether or not you are an Amateur, there is something in here for everyone. If you are interested in becoming an Amateur Radio operator, here in the US, visit www.hello-radio.org; in Canada, www.rac.ca; and in the UK, www.rsgb.org. For other countries, check with your local communications ministry or department, because When all else fails....
David A. Lane, KG4GIY, has been licensed as an Amateur Radio operator since 2000 and has been working with Linux since 1995. During the day, he is an Infrastructure Architect. During an emergency, he is an Emergency Coordinator for Prince William County ARES. And on weekends, he makes pasta!
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide