2002 11 28

                    LINUX NEWS
          November 28, 2002 - Issue #109


1) Sean’s Notes

2) Linux News

It'll Save You Money, Even If You Don't Use It
Quoth the Penguin, "Open Source"
The Top 5 Misconceptions About LindowsOS
Sun's Parts with $35Million

3) Linux Resources

Speaking With A LISP
Desktop Linux Roundup
Using the Logical Volume Manager
FreeBSD Early Adopters Guide
Building A Mailbot in PHP

4) App o’ the Week

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1) Sean's Notes

Blogging seems all the craze these days. I suspect it has been
so for a while, it's just that I'm behind the times and am just
catching up. Regardless, installing blogging software on your
own machine is pretty simple, and combined with a cable modem or
DSL, makes it easy for you to carve out your own space of
blog-land.  (Is "blog-land" even a word?)

Movable Type (MT) is a great piece of software upon which to run
a blog. After the initial installation, you manage it completely
from the web. It's easy to use and customize, too. Installing it,
though, can be a problem, judging by various sites that offer
assistance with MT installation. This week, I'm going to guide
you through the installation, and hopefully, steer clear of the

Fire up your browser, and jump on over to:


Download the Full version, no libraries. Since we have full
reign over our own system, we may as well install all the
libraries centrally.

I downloaded it into /usr/local/src

# tar -xzf MT-2.51.tar.gz
# mkdir /var/www/html/blog
# cp -r \* /var/www/html/blog

RedHat throws all your web-related files into /var/www/html. By
creating the "blog" subdirectory, the site will be accessible at:


(if you haven't registered a domain, the IP address of your
Linux box is fine.) If you want it to be the root directory of
your site, then by all means delete the "blog" from the
commands. If /var/www/html isn't where your distribution places
HTML files, then adjust as appropriate.

If you did check it out with your web browser, you should see a
nice note that you can't view the contents of the directory,
along with a pointer to the installation instructions. You
*could* follow those (which is essentially what I'm doing), but
I'm hoping to steer you clear of the pitfalls, and let you know
what it is you're really doing.

First thing to do is to edit the mt.cfg file that's in the
directory. It's a pretty simple format, just a tag and a value.
The first, CGIPath, tells MT where all the CGI scripts go. (CGI
is what lets you run code on the web server to generate dynamic
web pages.) In my case, I'm using my test machine:

CGIPath  http://www.linux/blog/

Next, MT needs to know where to store its data. Rather than use
a SQL server, we'll take the easy way out and use DBM files, a
very simple but powerful way of storing data within files.
Though the installation suggests "./db", I'm going to put it in
"/var/blog". Put it wherever you want, just remember that
directory for later! Just as a side note, the "blog" above
doesn't correspond to the "blog" below, I just happened to
choose the same name. Users of the site will never know where
you're storing the data.

DataSource /var/blog

Now, take that directory and create it:

# mkdir /var/blog
# chown apache /var/blog
# chmod 700 /var/blog

Here, the directory is created, and changed to be owned by the
web server, and only readable by the web server (700 means
"owner can do anything. Everyone else stay out!" Read up on
octal file permissions at:


May as well set permissions on the web directories so you can
write to them:

# cd /var/www/html/blog
# chown -r apache .
# chown -R root \*.cgi extlib lib

Here, we're letting the web user own the directories, but are
explicitly taking away control of the binaries and the libraries.

All that remains is to tell the webserver that cgi files in the
blog directory are to be executed instead of returned to the
browser. You'll know if you missed this step, because once you
try to view your new blog, you'll see a mess of perl code on
your screen. Edit httpd.conf, it's likely in /etc/httpd/conf

Add the following lines to the end, and restart your web service.

AddHandler cgi-script .cgi
<directory /var/www/html/blog>
options +execcgi

The first line says "anything ending in .cgi is to be executed
as a CGI script". The second line says "the following commands
are valid only in the blog directory". The third line turns on
the execution of CGIs, since by default they are disabled. The
last line closes off the directory tag above.

I'm going to hit:


If all works out, I'll get a page showing me what modules I'm
missing. CPAN is what we'll use to get those installed:

# perl -MCPAN -e shell

If you're prompted to configure, you can chance it with the
defaults by selecting "no", or say "yes" and configure it
properly. I find the latter safer, simply accepting all the
defaults, but picking a local mirror toward the end. You'll be
prompted to choose it by your continent and country.

>From the CPAN prompt, I can install all the modules that
mt-check told me I was missing.

cpan> install HTML::Template
cpan> install Image::Size
cpan> install DB_File

Using CPAN is so much easier than doing it the long way!

Hit that url again to make sure all your modules were built fine.

Last step is to run the script that builds the databases, again,
through the web:


If all goes well, you'll see the message "All went well". You
should also note the message to delete mt-load.cgi. I'm never a
fan of deleting these types of things outright, but I sure don't
want other people accessing it.  File permissions to the rescue:

# chmod 000 mt-load.cgi

000 ensures that nobody can run it without really going out of
their way (and being root).

That's it! The rest is all configuration.


Log on with the username of "Melody", and the password of
"Nelson". Go to "Edit your profile", and change your username
and password to something that you want, and can remember.

Then, head on over to "First Blog", and "Blog Config". Just
make sure all the paths are correct. Feel free to change the
name, since "First Blog" is quite boring.

>From here, navigate the menus to add new entries, or change the
layout of the site. Just don't forget to rebuild your site when
it prompts you too.

Linux makes a great web platform. Combined with a great web
server such as Apache, and some good content management software
such as Movable Type, you can express yourself to the world, or
just have a quiet place to write your thoughts.

Happy blogging.

Long live the Penguin,


2) Linux News

It'll Save You Money, Even If You Don't Use It

Just the mention of your company going to Linux might be enough
to get your Microsoft rep to drop their prices. While you're
probably better off giving Bill the heave-ho, it just goes to
show that Linux is so good, you don't even need to use it for
it to help you.


Quoth the Penguin, "Open Source"

Proving that a million monkeys sitting at a million keyboards
eventually put something good out, the Cramsession ByteBack
newsletter brings you this clever and inspiring poem.


The Top 5 Misconceptions About LindowsOS

I've heard a lot about LindowsOS in the past, not much of it
good. But this article goes some way toward explaining some of
the things said about this product. Turns out that not
everything said is true (including having to run as root).


Sun's Parts with $35Million

"Sun's Terraspring purchase will provide the foundation for its
1 vision (architecture for data centers). Enterprises should
start assessing architectures for policy-based computing services
and design road maps to them."


3) Linux Resources

Speaking With A LISP

The Emacs editor can be extended with a language known as Lisp.
Aside from Emacs, though, Lisp is a very powerful programming
language. Using Emacs as a programming environment,
uber-programmer Sanjay shows you the basics of Lisp.


Desktop Linux Roundup

Extremetech takes a look at many desktop Linux distributions,
and gives them an overall ranking. No surprises with RedHat,
Mandrake, and SuSE, but others like Lycoris and Lindows make
this an interesting read.


Using the Logical Volume Manager

As you start to get a lot of disks, managing them into
partitions and file systems becomes tedious. The logical volume
manager gets around this by letting you build logical disks out
of physical disks, and grow them on the fly.


FreeBSD Early Adopters Guide

Looking to get in on the bleeding edge of BSD? Look at this
guide for instructions on using the developer preview of


Building A Mailbot in PHP

I'm continually surprised how far people are able to push the
PHP language. It's got to the point where PHP is its own command
line shell scripting tool instead of just a web module! This
article follows the development of a mailbot in PHP.


4) App o' the Week

As someone with more than a passing interest in IP Telephony,
this program caught my eye. Most protocols that phones use don't
play well with NAT, Cisco's proprietary "Skinny" being one. This
perl script claims to be able to proxy this odd-named protocol.


(C) 2002 BrainBuzz.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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