Weekend Reading: Do-It-Yourself Projects

Join us this weekend as we bring the DIY movement back. Not only is it a chance to start working on those ideas you've been putting off for months, but it's also a great way to learn while playing.

Why You Should Do It Yourself

by Kyle Rankin

Bring back the DIY movement and start with your own Linux servers.

It wasn't very long ago that we lived in a society where it was a given that average people would do things themselves. There was a built-in assumption that you would perform basic repairs on household items, do general maintenance and repairs on your car, mow your lawn, cook your food and patch your clothes. The items around you reflected this assumption with visible and easy-to-access screws, spare buttons sewn on the bottom of shirts and user-replaceable parts. Through the years though, culture has changed toward one more focused on convenience.

Building a Voice-Controlled Front End to IoT Devices

by Michael J. Hammel

Apple, Google and Amazon are taking voice control to the next level. But can voice control be a DIY project? Turns out, it can. And, it isn't as hard as you might think.

This article covers the Jarvis project, a Java application for capturing audio, translating to text, extracting and executing commands and vocally responding to the user. It also explores the programming issues related to integrating these components for programmed results. That means there is no machine learning or neural networks involved. The end goal is to have a selection of key words cause a specific method to be called to perform an action.

Two Portable DIY Retro Gaming Consoles

by Kyle Rankin

A look at Adafruit's PiGRRL Zero vs. Hardkernel's ODROID-GO.

If you enjoy retro gaming, there are so many options, it can be tough to know what to get. The choices range from officially sanctioned systems from Nintendo all the way to homemade RetroPie projects like I've covered in Linux Journal in the past. Of course, those systems are designed to be permanently attached to a TV. But, what if you want to play retro games on the road?

Build a Custom Minimal Linux Distribution from Source

by Petros Koutoupis

Follow along with this step-by-step guide to build your own distribution from source and learn how it installs, loads and runs.

When working with Linux, you easily can download any of the most common distributions to install and configure—be it Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE or something entirely different. And although you should give several distributions a spin, building your own custom, minimal Linux distribution is also a beneficial and wonderful learning exercise.

DIY RV Offsite Backup and Media Server

by Kyle Rankin

What better way to add a geeky touch to #vanlife than with a Linux server in your RV?

One easily could make the strong argument that an RV is the ultimate DIY project playground. It combines all of the DIY projects you could perform on a vehicle with the DIY projects for a home. Add to that the fact that you may spend days living in a small house on wheels navigating highways, forests and deserts, and you have a whole other class of DIY projects to make the most of that smaller space. RVs also offer a whole suite of power options from 12V deep cycle batteries to 110V shore power to generators and alternators to solar power, so there's a whole class of electrical DIY projects related to making the most of your changing power options. And if you're a geek, having an RV introduces a whole other level of DIY possibilities.

The LJ Password Generator Tool

by Dave Taylor

Mnemonic passwords generally stink. A random sequence of letters, digits and punctuation is more secure.

You can build a fully functional password generator that's ready to take on your hundreds of system users.

Build Your Own Social Network With Friendica [Video]

by Marcel Gagne

Create your own Linux social network with Friendica. Marcel Gagne walks you through the steps you'll need to take in this how-to video.

Build Your Own Arcade Game Player and Relive the '80s!

by Shawn Powers

From our Old But Gold article collection, Shawn bucks the "Linux is bad for gaming" stereotype and shows you how to use penguin power to relive the '80s. In this cool project, he describes how to construct a fully functional arcade cabinet. When complete, you'll be able to play all the old coin-op games from your childhood in the coin-free luxury of your living room (or garage—depending on the tolerance of individual spouses).

How-to Use RetroPi to Play Games Like It's the '90s!

by Shawn Powers

While the arcade system Shawn built back in 2007 (see above) may have been to relive the 1980s, he points out this article's project is really a better look at his actual childhood. And this article's project is awesome

The emulation is amazing, and if you look closely at the configuration options, you'll see there are "shift" keys for the controllers. That means while you're playing, you can hold down the select key and then press various buttons on the controller to perform system-level actions like resetting the game, or saving and restoring save-game states. It's really like the original consoles, but better. We can't explain how awesome it is to play these old games using the original controllers, but on a huge LCD screen instead of an old 19" television.


Carlie Fairchild is Linux Journal’s Publisher and guiding spirit. She’s been actively engaged in the Linux community for two decades and is responsible for setting the magazine’s overall direction. Carlie leads a motley team of geeks and journalists to ensure that Linux Journal stays true to its founding ideologies of personal freedom and open-source technical innovation.

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