2000 11 16

                    LINUX NEWS
            Thursday, November 16, 2000


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

    Apache 2.0 alpha 4
    An interview with Rasmus
    GIMP 1.1.29
    And the most popular web server is...

3) Linux Resources

    It's just plain Lunacy
    mod_ssl overview
    Creating dynamic sites
    From CGI to mod_perl

4) App o’ the week

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1) Sean's Notes
The steep learning curve involved in learning Unix is well
known. Many in the audience will have been frustrated by the
filesystem at one time or another, confused by compiling, or
driven crazy by the kernel (OK, I'll stop there, it's
getting bad). Instead of the gradual learning curve of
products like Windows NT, it seems like one must master many
tasks before doing even the simplest thing under UNIX.

It's true, and no apologies are made. One of the Unix
philosophies is that the user, and to a much greater extent
the administrator, knows what he/she wants to do, and
doesn't want to be hindered by the operating system. Rather
than a tree of options to configure a web server, you've
got a large text file. Nothing is assumed by the shell--
one space or misplaced character can easily destroy your
filesystem instead of the file you meant to delete. In
essence, the interface is so simple that the smarts of the
system have to reside in the user, not in the GUI.
Understand that, and the operating system becomes less
intimidating. Think of it as a formula one race car -- in
the hands of a novice it's bouncing off the railings and
out of control. With a seasoned driver behind the wheel,
it is an elegant machine, a model of power and speed.

So how does one ascend from being a novice to a master, or
at the very least, be able to make sense of a Unix system?
The disappointing answer is that it comes with experience.
Linux is a great way to get this experience because of its
open nature, easy installation, and documentation. It is
also an excellent variant of Unix, such that many
organizations are starting to use Linux instead of
traditional UNIX OSes like Solaris and HP/UX.

When learning a new technology, I find it easier to relate
it to something I already know. When I get asked by someone
how best to learn how to write a web database, I usually
respond by suggesting that they write a timesheet
application. Everyone knows what a timesheet is, so it
gives a solid goal to work towards. It's simple, so you can
focus on the use of technology rather than trying to solve
a difficult problem with an unknown tool. It's flexible, so
you can start off small and work from there.

With that in mind, learning Linux should be made easier
with a project that is a known quantity. All of us are
familiar with the web, and most will know about web servers.
By following the process towards building a web server on a
Linux box, one can learn a great deal along the way. Apache
is a popular and easy to use web server, and it has lots of
plug-ins to make it all the more challenging at the later
stages. Writing HTML isn't hard, so I would consider this
a great project.

This issue of the Linux newsletter is devoted to the web.
The news section is all about what's going on in the web
server world, and the resource section contains references
to tutorials on how to get your web server up and running.
Remember that it's not about the destination, but the
journey. Pay attention to what you're doing as you do it.
Don't be afraid to try out things to see what happens.
Even if you have to reinstall your OS and start from
scratch, you've still learned something.

Don't forget about the resources that Brainbuzz.com
provides in the boards. Post your questions to one of the
Linux boards:


Finally, feel free to email me with your thoughts and

Long live the Penguin,


2) Linux News

Apache 2.0 alpha 4
Apache, the most popular web server in the world, is getting
ready for version 2.0.  Over the years, Apache has been
continually enhanced with little signs of slowing down.
2.0a4 is the latest release on the road to 2.0, and Ryan
Bloom takes the time to explain what's new, what's great,
and why you should give this alpha a try.

http://apachetoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn 00-06-30-002-01-NW-LF-S

An interview with Rasmus
Rasmus Lerdorf, the author of PHP, explains where PHP
came from, where it's going, and talks about his book,
"PHP Pocket Reference".


GIMP 1.1.29
Billed as the release candidate for GIMP 1.2, the latest
version of the GNU Image Manipulation Program has been made
available. For those of you looking for a free Photoshop
quality tool for UNIX (or Windows for that matter), here it
is. For current GIMP users, it's time to upgrade!


And the most popular web server is...
Not much of a surprise, is it? Apache continues to dominate
the web server market. This report has some very interesting
graphs showing the percentage of marketshare over time. Over
22 million sites were polled for this study.


3) Linux Resources

It's just plain Lunacy
Linux Lunacy, that is...a one week cruise to the Eastern
Caribbean. See the sights of the Caribbean, enjoy the Bon
Voyage cocktail party, and attend seminars from famous names
in the Linux world. They've even got a page that explains
how to sell this to your boss!


Common questions I hear fall along the lines of "How do I
get mod_X (or PHP, or SSL for that matter) working with
Apache?" This article will lead you through setting up a
web server with SSL, mod_perl, PHP, and a mysql database.


mod_ssl overview
While on the subject of Apache and various modules, this
link will lead you to a presentation given at Apachecon 2000
on mod_ssl (the module that enables secure web pages). It
shows various scenarios in which you can use mod_ssl, along
with the configurations to do them.  It starts off with a
description on how SSL really works -- a must read if you
plan on implementing it within your organization.


Creating dynamic sites
It wouldn't be fair of me to give you all this information
on how to set up Apache, PHP, and mysql, and then not tell
you how to use it all! Using the example of a database
driven site to display press releases, the process of
developing the database and writing the PHP code is


>From CGI to mod_perl
CGI is the usual way of getting the output of a perl script
out to the browser.  mod_perl allows you to run your perl
code directly as a module so that you have increased
flexibility and faster execution.  For those of us who know
CGI but not mod_perl, this page takes you through the


4) App o' the week
In the newest section of the newsletter, I'm going to try to
provide an application or utility that you may find of use.
For this first edition of App o' the Week, in keeping with
this week's web theme, I present...the Webalizer!

The Webalizer is an amazingly fast and flexible statistics
tool for web server logs, Squid logs, and FTP logs. With a
bit of tweaking, it can also process IIS logs. Turn on
combined logging (i.e., referrers and agents) in Apache,
and the report will include a list of the top search strings
that people used to get to your site!


Have a good utility that you think others should hear
about? Let me know: mailto:swalberg@brainbuzz.com

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