September 2013 Issue of Linux Journal: HOW-TOs

How'd Ya Do That?

I tend to read science fiction or fantasy for entertainment and/or escape from reality. In fact, I suspect my childhood would have been far less tolerable had I not been able to escape to Mordor for a time or hide from the bugs with Johnnie Rico. And as much as I loved watching the exploits of Captain Picard and his crew, there was never an episode on how to build a replicator. Or a holodeck. Or a phaser. And that's what I've loved about Linux Journal for far longer than I've been on staff: it shows how to do stuff!

This issue not only continues that legacy, but it also even focuses on it! I apologize in advance for any lost productivity at work while you live out the How-To issue this month.

Reuven M. Lerner starts out with a look back at 20 years of Web development. It's hard to believe it's been 20 years since the first www was put in a browser's address bar, but what a 20 years it's been! No more blink tags and far fewer animated GIFs make the Web a lot more fun, even if it is still "Under Construction".

Necessity truly is the mother of invention, and Dave Taylor knows that better than anyone. As he continues to battle with a DDOS on his server, he shares his process with us all. While scripting is the Swiss Army knife of system administration, it's not terribly helpful if your scripts have a "dull blade". Dave shows some best practices on creating scripts that can provide invaluable information.

Kyle Rankin reveals that he's really been lying all these years, and that he uses Windows Vista on a 17" sports utility laptop. Okay, that's a complete lie—I couldn't resist, sorry Kyle. In true Kyle Rankin form, he describes how to use and manipulate a command-line calendaring app, gcalcli. If you want to use Google Calendar, but don't want to load up that pesky browser, Kyle's article is for you.

Rather than teach how to do something this month, I took the time in my column to show you how I do things. I get lots of e-mail asking what sort of hardware and software I use, so I figured the How-To issue was a good time to spill the beans. Some of my setup is probably not surprising, but part of it might be. I'm looking forward to feedback and to seeing what everyone else uses.

Next up, Peter Cook provides a review and tweak guide for the Acer C7 Chromebook. While targeting a similar market to the ARM-based Samsung Chromebook Bill Childers reviewed recently, the C7 uses the Intel architecture, and sports a full hard drive. It's upgradeable, and after reading Peter's article, you'll see it's quite customizable.

Janos Gyerik follows with an excellent article on command-line tricks. I've been using Linux for almost two decades, and I learned a lot from Janos' cornucopia of CLI tricks. Somewhere, Kyle Rankin has to be proud. I also learned some cool things from Petros Koutoupis this month with his article on hard drive caching. Hard drives are slow, and even the fastest spinning media is the bottleneck in any system. By caching to RAM or SSD, Petros explains how to take advantage of Linux's powerful caching abilities.

Bill Childers finishes up our How-To articles with his tutorial on setting up vcsh for managing configuration files. If you've ever tar'd up your /etc directory, and called that good enough, you won't want to miss Bill's article. In fact, most articles in this issue start with the premise of, "you used to do it this way, but you should try this!" That's part of the reason I love the Linux community so much. The old saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is all well and good, but if you're a Linux user, a better saying might be, "if it ain't broke, good, that means we can work on making it better!"

This issue showcases what made me a Linux Journal reader years before I was on staff. I love to read about stuff, but nothing is quite as exciting as getting to do that stuff yourself. I hope you enjoy this issue as much as we've enjoyed putting it together. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to use my replicator and make some Earl Grey, hot. Beam on over and I'll make you a cup too.

Available to Subscribers: September 3

Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.

Load Disqus comments