Current_Issue.tar.gz - Pocket-Sized Penguins

by Shawn Powers

When my kids were young, it was difficult for me to convince them that penguins were birds. Frankly, they don't look much like birds. They don't exactly sit on bird feeders. Heck, they don't even fly. When they are waddling around in the snow, penguins look gangly and awkward. It's not until you see them in the water that their beauty and elegance really shines. Although I'm not suggesting Linux is awkward, there are some environments in which it really shines. Mobile devices are one of them.

This month, we're covering the whole gamut of mobile Linux. Alexander Sirotkin shows us how to bend Google Android to our will with the Java API. Marcel Gagné shows us a bit about syncing data from our non-Linux BlackBerry handsets with our Linux desktops. Most smartphones lack native Linux software, but thankfully, Funambol fills that gap nicely and supports many different mobile devices. If you have a smartphone, you'll want to check it out.

One of the frustrations of using mobile Linux devices is that the screens (if they have one) are really small. David Harding shows us the nuances of the Conkeror Web browser on small screens. Thankfully, more and more Web sites are being designed for the mobile-sized browser, but a flexible browser still is a great asset on tiny screens. Heck, with Linux, mobile computing doesn't even need screens. Federico Lucifredi shows us how to hack the Western Digital MyBook II. With a little bit of work, you'll be able to take your own Linux server with you wherever you go. Throw a couple in your backpack, and you could be a mobile cloud!

I was sure that for the mobile issue, Kyle Rankin would tell us about the time he did system administration on his server farm from a beach somewhere in Mexico with nothing more than an SSH prompt on his BlackBerry. I may have been wrong with my guess, but Kyle doesn't disappoint this month. He deals with the horrible mistake many of us have made: typing a command remotely into the wrong server. As someone who accidentally has typed his password in an instant message window to someone by mistake, I'd advise reading his column. Twice.

Daniel Bartholomew is back this month to show us Kindle 2. The differences between that and the new Kindle DX are fairly easy to see (basically, it's huge). But, there are some significant differences between the original Kindle and the new regular-sized model too. Daniel compares the two and explains the pros, cons and general interesting things Amazon is offering in its Linux-based devices. If music or audio is more interesting than reading to you, Dan Sawyer tells us all about Indamixx, a recording studio you can take with you on the go. There may be some inappropriate places to set up your mobile studio, but with Indamixx, the problem won't be portability.

Fear not; this month we still have our regular lineup of columns to scratch that geeky itch. Dave Taylor demonstrates using getopt in shell scripts to parse the start flags. Reuven M. Lerner shows us how to check our Ruby code with metric_fu, and Mick Bauer continues his series on building a secure Squid proxy. This issue focuses on mobile Linux, but as with every other month, we aim to please everyone.

I suppose Linux Journal itself is a good example of mobility. Feel free to take this issue with you wherever you go. If you subscribe to the digital edition, you might be reading this on a laptop right now. My only suggestion would be that regardless of which format you are reading, try not to get carried away. Penguins might be able to “fly” underwater, but unless you have a Linux-powered submarine, Linux Journal is best enjoyed on dry ground.

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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