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by Shawn Powers

There is a particularly cheesy scene in the movie The Core, in which the geeky dude claims to speak one language: one zero one zero zero. He also claims to require Hot Pockets in order to do any serious coding. Thankfully for us, our programming choices (along with dietary options) include much more than pure binary. This month, we tackle the subject of languages—specifically, programming languages.

In every issue of Linux Journal, we try to give you some useful tips and timely information on the programming scene. This month, we look at a few different languages to give you a better feel for some of the options out there. Although there is never just one way to solve a problem, some languages are a better fit for specific needs. The trick is picking the right tool for the job.

If scripting is your secret sauce, you might find Reuven M. Lerner's article on JavaScript event handlers useful. Or, for that matter, Dave Taylor's continuing series on scripting the Internet Movie Database might prove insightful. Because it's the programming issue, we have several other scripting articles as well. Raphael Mudge teaches us about the Sleep language, which uses Java and was inspired by Perl. Giancarlo Niccolai walks us through using Falcon, which is a language he wrote to fit a specific need. Thankfully, he's released it to open source, so we can all benefit.

Sometimes scripting just doesn't fit the bill, and here at Linux Journal, we're sensitive to such things. Federico Kereki shows us a great way to keep track of our code in PHP using Eclipse, an Integrated Development Environment (IDE).

When it comes right down to it, some of us have very little interest in learning to program. That's fine too. James Gray interviews the Python creator, Guido van Rossum. Whether you are a coder or not, it's pretty exciting to learn about the changes in version 3.0 of the extremely popular Python language. Heck, it's not even backward compatible! You won't want to miss the reasons why.

If you're not a programmer, that doesn't mean you have to use this issue for spit-wad ammunition, however. Maybe Kyle Rankin's column on integrating Rock Band controllers into your Linux machine is more up your alley. Combined with the open-source game Frets on Fire, you can take advantage of the Rock Band Wii controllers without even owning a Wii. Using the drum set, you can play a synthesized drum kit with Hydrogen. The amazing part is that Linux recognizes the controllers right out of the box! Thank you, Nintendo, for using standard USB ports.

We also have an interview with the SUSE Security Team Lead Marcus Meissner. You think you're worried about security exploits? Marcus worries for a living. His work helps protect our systems from unwelcome visitors. Speaking of which, what issue would be complete without Marcel Gagné's column? He does indeed stay true to the issue focus and discusses languages—specifically, Klingon. If that's too geeky for you, perhaps Pig Latin or even Swedish Chef-ese is more interesting. Marcel has it all and shows you how to translate for yourself.

If you really want to talk to your computer, you have to teach it how to interact with you. Daniel Bartholomew teaches us how to create our own Zork-like game using the Inform language. He includes instructions on using both Inform 6 and Inform 7. In fact, a downloadable version of the program he wrote for the article is available on our FTP site (see the article for details). If phrases like, “You're likely to be eaten by a Grue” spark some nostalgia, you won't want to miss it.

And, as we do every month, we have our regular cast of columnists, reviews and indepth articles. We hope that whether you're a programmer, a hacker or just a Linux enthusiast, you'll enjoy this issue. I know I sure have.


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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