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System administrators need to keep an eye on their servers to make sure things are running smoothly. If they find a problem, they need to see when it started, so investigations can focus on what happened at that time. That means logging information at regular intervals and having a quick way to analyse this data. Here's a look at several tools that let you monitor one or more servers from a Web interface.
Last month, when the National Center for Open Source and Education announced this year's FOSS and K-12 Education Awards, three of the five awards were given for software designed for the Linux Terminal Service Project (LTSP). Two were given to Eric Harrison and Paul Nelson, the founders of the K12LTSP distribution (now called K-12 Linux). The third was given to Robert Arkiletian, the developer of an administration application called Fl_TeacherTool that is designed specifically for K12LTSP. The award was only the latest acclaim for Fl_TeacherTool, which has a small but dedicated group of users in the classroom. Ironically, though, the award comes at a time when the tiny project faces significant challenges if it is to survive.
Backing up data can be difficult, especially when you only want to copy files that changed since the last backup. It can be even more troublesome when you have to remember to start the process manually,or you have to delete old backups to make room for new ones. Because of these difficulties, some people decide not to back up data at all, and feel the pain when they accidentally delete the wrong file or their system crashes. TimeVault is a backup utility for Ubuntu that addresses these problems.
Ever wondered what takes your Linux box so long to boot up? You can see for certain with the Bootchart package. Bootchart logs the entire startup process and produces a clean, graphical representation of its results suitable for everything from troubleshooting to good old-fashioned bragging rights.
If you want to keep tabs on your deadlines, you don't need a fancy project management application -- often, a simple spreadsheet can do the job. To see how, let's create a spreadsheet that tracks task deadlines, shows the current status of each task, and highlights scheduling conflicts. In the process we'll learn a few useful Calc techniques.
Support for transparent decompression of files on optical media has been part of the Linux kernel since version 2.4.14. Here's how you can take advantage of this support when you burn your own optical media by using the mkzftree tool and the
-z option to genisoimage. These commands compress files using zlib, which uses the same algorithm as gzip. Using the transparent compression Rock Ridge extension can allow you to fit much more data onto a DVD.
In the early days of desktop virtualization, there were few low-priced alternatives to VMware Workstation that didn't involve a steep learning curve. Even the freely available VirtualBox didn't affect Workstation's market domination and instead faced competition from the newly rebranded VMware GSX server, which was offered for free as VMware Server. Despite being an entry-level server virtualization product, many people used VMware Server on the desktop. Taking that into consideration, you have to look at the recently released VMware Server 2, from two angles -- as an entry-level server virtualization platform and as an alternative to desktop virtualization products like VirtualBox. With its performance and other improvements, it does enough to keep existing customers happy, but probably not enough to get others to switch.
The Metasploit Project develops a set of security tools to create and execute exploit code on remote computers. Some people say Metasploit makes the job easier for black hat hackers who attack networks looking for vulnerabilities to take advantage of; others says the tool helps network security administrators do a better job of finding and repairing weaknesses before the bad guys get to them. H.D. Moore, the 20-something creator of the Metasploit Project, says it all depends on your perspective.
The developers of the free panoramic photo editor Hugin released version 0.7 this month, culminating a two-year development cycle. The new release incorporates key new technical abilities and usability improvements to help demystify the panorama creation process for the average shooter.
Many people use SSH to log in to remote machines, copy files around, and perform general system administration. If you want to increase your productivity with SSH, you can try a tool that lets you run commands on more than one remote machine at the same time. Parallel ssh, Cluster SSH, and ClusterIt let you specify commands in a single terminal window and send them to a collection of remote machines where they can be executed.
Yesterday we took a look at BashDiff, a patch for the bash shell that adds new capabilities. We've already looked at some of the additions that BashDiff makes to bash's commands and string parsing abilities. Today we'll look at modifying positional parameters, parsing XML, talking to ISAM and relational databases, creating GTK+2 GUIs, and a few other tricks and issues.
Five of the top 10 most downloaded distributions on Distrowatch use the Debian package system. It has developed a rich infrastructure of utilities -- not just the core commands apt-get and dpkg, but also such less well-known commands as apt-cache, apt-spy, and apt-listbugs. In addition, an array of other scripts, some mashups of existing utilities, and some original, are regularly available on sites like openDesktop.org. Such scripts help to streamline the process of keeping a Debian-based package system in working order, and provide information to help you make better decisions about software installation.
Sun's recently released VirtualBox 2 is one of the best virtualization applications for desktop users. It's available in two wallet-friendly flavors, with a few extra features in the closed-source variant. The software sports a nice graphical user interface, but few users realize that it can also be completely controlled via a powerful command-line interface.
They're back! John Van Ostrand and his gang of idealists put on another great money-losing all-volunteer effort to get Linux users and developers to connect in Toronto last weekend. An estimated 250 people attended the one-day Ontario Linux Fest at the Days Hotel near Toronto's major airport. Among the 27 sessions were keynotes from Jeremy Allison of Samba fame and numerous interesting sessions on everything from Nintendo Wiimote integration in X to an introduction to a group called Geekcorps that seeks to bring usable computers and the Internet to rural West Africa.
New Linux users may be content with automatic updates and the package information shown by desktop tools, but more experienced users are generally more cautious and demanding. Experienced users, for instance, may want to assess the risk of an upgrade by studying its dependencies before they begin, or to overcome a package conflict by using versions from an older repository. Because of Debian's long history of providing for advanced users, this sort of information is available from several different sources -- from the apt-cache command, from distribution Web sites, and, in Ubuntu, with the new Ubuntu Simple Package Crawler. Unfortunately, no single source has all the features you are likely to want.
Burning discs reliably ceased to be an area of concern for Linux a long time ago, thanks to tools such as K3b and GnomeBaker. Another tool, AcetoneISO2, aims to be the Swiss army knife at managing disc images. This utility can convert many different image formats, such as .nrg, .bin, and .img, to ISO, and can generate, compress, encrypt, extract, and mount ISO images. It can also mount Mac OS *.dmg files as images, rip DVDs to Xvid AVI files, split and merge images, and more.
After two years of litigation, the parties involved in an Israeli law suit that centered on the validity of the GNU General Public License (GPL) have settled out of court. The result leaves the legal status of the GPL in Israel unresolved.
BashDiff is a patch for the bash shell that can do an amazing number of things. It extends existing bash features, brings a few of awk's tricks into the shell itself, exposes some common C functions to bash shell programming, adds an exception mechanism, provides features of functional programming such as list comprehension and the
map function, lets you talk with GTK+2 and databases, and even adds a Web server right into the standard bash shell.
OpenOffice.org Writer is as much a desktop publishing program as a word processor. That fact, however, has yet to have much influence on the extensions created for Writer -- perhaps because most users prefer manual formatting to organizing themselves with page styles, templates, and other elements of document design. Still, extensions for layout are starting to appear, as demonstrated by four extensions that help you automate layout: Alba, which manages page orientation; Pagination and Pager, which manage page numbering; and Template Changer, which allows you to change the template, and therefore the entire layout of documents, on the fly. And all but one of these extensions use styles and templates, the way that OpenOffice.org is built to work, which means that they are highly stable.
This week in our whirlwind tour of the Linux.com forums: demystifying your notebook's built-in webcam, demystifying the varying states of system RAM, and demystifying the ins and outs of running a shared server. Plus a country-sized portion of re-mystifying unanswered questions, and the debut of a new feature so strange and different from the usual Ask Linux.com fare that we'd have to call it, well, mystifying.