Current_Issue.tar.gz - Focusing on the Softies

by Shawn Powers

This month, we focus on software development. Thankfully, for those of us not terribly gifted in such endeavors, Linux allows a rather wide definition of the subject. Although it may not allow for my flavor of soft development (sculpting mashed potatoes), it does include anything from shell scripting to Web pages, and kturtle to binary.

If you're fed up with all the existing programming languages and you want something completely new, you may want to look at Dirk Elmendorf's interview with Rich Hickey. Rich created Clojure, and although it doesn't claim to re-invent the wheel, it does put a new spin on existing concepts. Don't worry if new languages scare you. This month, Dave Taylor takes us back to the trusty shell scripting world, and we see the Twitter program we've been working on in action. Using tools like AWK may not seem cutting edge, but having a Twitter bot respond to you takes some getting used to!

Both Reuven M. Lerner and Avi Deitcher talk about databases this month. Reuven talks about the NoSQL movement, and Avi discusses jsormdb. Although the former might arguably not be about a database, but rather a lack of one, jsormdb is most assuredly a JavaScript database that can be embedded into your applications. Sometimes a database isn't enough though, and you need a full-blown Web server for your application. Michael J. Hammel shows us Mongoose, which is exactly that. Mongoose is a fully embeddable Web server written in C.

Honestly, the programming many of us are exposed to all have their GUI pieces on the Web. Carl Fink shows us how to use Flex Builder to make Flash applications—in Linux! Adobe's Flash is cross-platform, but often creating those applications requires Windows or OS X. With Flex Builder, that's no longer the case. Add Adobe's AIR technology, and even standalone applications can be created while never leaving the penguiny comfort of Linux. If the notion of developing Web applications on Linux concerns you (it really shouldn't), perhaps Alexander Sirotkin's article on Selenium will ease your mind a bit. Using Selenium, a programmer can test scripts written in a variety of programming languages, including Perl, Java, C# and others.

If you are like me, and your mashed-potato-sculpting skills are better than your programming skills, this issue won't leave you feeling lumpy. Although we don't have any sculpting tutorials, we do have a bunch of other interesting topics with real a-peel. (Okay, enough with the potato jokes.) Brian Conner reviews the Motorola DROID this month, and as a DROID owner myself, I can easily say it's a review you'll want to read. You'll also want to read Anton Borisov's interview with three important women in Linux. Valerie Aurora, Sarah Sharp and Stormy Peters all weigh in on what it's like to be a woman in the Open Source world.

We've also got our regular cast of columnists helping us hone our geek skills. Kyle Rankin continues his series on troubleshooting. This month, he debugs two troublesome servers, oddly named shawn and bill. I'll leave it to the reader to determine which server is more troublesome. Be sure to keep in mind that shawn and bill are servers with communication problems; otherwise, Kyle's article starts to look like a Linux Journal group-therapy session.

Mick Bauer continues his series on OpenVPN, and if you have to work remotely or possibly don't trust those folks on your network, you'll want to catch this month's article. Or, perhaps total anonymity is your cup of tea. John Knight covers that in our New Projects column, where he talks about Tor. It's not the fastest way to transmit data, but it's hard to find a more anonymous way.

So whether you're a programmer with your mouth watering for this programming issue or a fellow mashed-potato fan with your mouth watering for bacon and chives, this issue should satiate your needs. Just remember not to lick the pages, people frown on that.

Shawn Powers is the Associate Editor for Linux Journal. He's also the Gadget Guy for, and he has an interesting collection of vintage Garfield coffee mugs. Don't let his silly hairdo fool you, he's a pretty ordinary guy and can be reached via e-mail at Or, swing by the #linuxjournal IRC channel on

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