OPW – Miscellaneous web development tips

The Ubuntu virtual machine (VM) I was developing on decided to have a thermonuclear meltdown yesterday. I reappropriated a 16GB thumbdrive and have installed Ubuntu natively on that. Since I have to redo the nice little setup I’d done for myself, I might as well document it while I’m remembering. I can’t take credit for it, as it came from other developers who were nice enough to share their wisdom with me, either directly or indirectly. In the spirit of paying it forward, here ya go.  🙂

First, a bit of background info:

When you clone from a GitHub repository with Git, it automatically creates the main project directory for you.

Rather than cloning to the Apache document root /var/www and fiddling with sudo every time one creates, moves, or edits a file, it’s nice to be able to work from a folder in one’s home directory… but then it’s a pain to keep copying the modified files to /var/www for testing.

Here’s how I made my life a little easier:

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Posting from SCALE

(Posting wirelessly in Linux from SCALE)

Yeahhhhh!! SCALE rocks!!!!!

Seriously, there is so much here and it’s very cool to see all these powerful applications of open source software. Everyone is so friendly and nice. What a blast! I learned lots of good stuff and found tons of great resources. It’s a beautiful thing. 🙂

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It’s a beautiful thing

Speaking of just working out of the box…! My son, who has liked Windows just fine for a long time and couldn’t imagine why anyone would ever switch to GNU/Linux, has officially been corrupted into my GNU/Linux-loving ways. We met up with a couple of my geek friends to just hang out, and during one of our typical geekly discussions began griping about Windows (in)security, malware removal and the advantages of GNU/Linux. My son had played with it a couple of times briefly, but had expressed disinterest when I’d brought it up from time to time because after all, Windows had been limping along… I mean, working… for him, and I’m not the type to push things on anyone. Anyway, he began asking a lot of questions about GNU/Linux in an effort to understand what the big deal is. He was not prepared for our answers. He didn’t know, for example, that it has full access to all your Windows partitions, and that you can install it on your Playstation 2 or Xbox and make a server, install it on many PocketPC’s including iPaqs, install it on a USB key and boot to it, or run it off a LiveCD/LiveDVD without altering anything on your hard drive. After many, many questions whose answers just blew his mind, he decided to try it. Over two evenings interspersed with musical breaks and various discussions, we backed up his hard drive, resized his partition, created a data partition for easier backups and sharing between operating systems, and installed SUSE Linux 10 Eval. Smooth and polished interface and very little technical information needed from the user. Just beautiful! Automatically finds and mounts your NTFS and FAT32 partitions as /windows/C and /windows/D, correctly identified every single piece of hardware including wireless without a single hitch, and presented a classy boot menu to choose GNU/Linux or Windows at startup. Showed him some of the nifty stuff you can do, along with some customizations, and one phrase soon began to dominate the conversation: “Now that is DOPE!” …Makes a mom proud. 😀

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L.A. Linuxchix and SCALE – w00t!

I’ve been meaning to go to an L.A. Linuxchix meet for the longest time, but yesterday I finally went to my first one. Came back totally AMPED! It was awesome!! They invited me to SCALE, the Southern California Linux Expo, which I missed last year and almost would have missed this year had I not gone to the meet. They were the friendliest people you could ever care to meet, none of the “3L33T” (elite) mentality you sometimes find out there. They really know their stuff. And the project they are doing right now just blew my mind! I sent the e-mail below to all my geek friends.

Nickie and I will be attending SCALE (http://socallinuxexpo.org) Feb 11-12. I’ll be staffing the L.A. Linuxchix booth for part of the time.

This year L.A. Linuxchix (http://linuxchixla.org) will be demonstrating LiveLAMP (http://www.livelamp.org), which you will come to understand is DA BOMB. LiveLAMP’s creators say that what Knoppix did for Linux, LiveLAMP does for servers. You boot to the LiveCD… and you get an instant server running Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, with 1000 dynamically generated student accounts with non-dictionary passwords, each with their own space to SFTP upload to the server, complete with CVS, C++, Javascript, CSS, XML, and Mambo content management software. This is all run entirely from the CD; the HDD is used only for storage of student files and a few settings. Yes, way! And when say, the web development class you’re teaching is over, simply reboot to the CD and have it format the HDD, and you’re ready for the next class. I’d never have believed it if I hadn’t been there helping to install and test it.

Come to the Linux Expo! It’s only $10 at the door if you just want to see all the exhibits. The special presentations cost extra but I hear they’re well worth it.

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Small rant

How fitting that my first post here should be about GNU/Linux. 🙂

My ultimate goal is to remove myself from using Windows altogether, for many reasons (this is another rant for another day), and switch everything to GNU/Linux. I’ve found, as with my last notebook, that a wireless driver is the one major sticking point in this plan. I have a Fujitsu S7020D notebook with Atheros AR5006X chipset. Madwifi purportedly works with this, according to notes one newsgroup, but I have yet to get it to work properly. There are several package dependencies, which I believe I have satisfied, and after some time and trouble I finally got Madwifi to compile and install. (It comes with Kubuntu, but apparently this version is not new enough.) However, once it is installed and I run modprobe ath_pci, that’s the end. I try to run wlanconfig and GNU/Linux doesn’t know what I’m talking about. Ugh. I’ve been working on all of this as time permits (I don’t have a whole lot, admittedly) over the last few days, to no avail.

It’s niggling things like this that keep GNU/Linux off the end user’s desktop. But between the instability, security holes, viruses, trojans, spyware, and adware, not to mention the bulky and time-consuming updates that Windows seems to need with increasing regularity, I’m fed up. I do it for a living all day, which I don’t mind too much because it’s my bread and butter. But at home I become my customers; I just want to use my darn computer without getting hung up by such things. Despite my wife Nickie’s initial exasperation with the complexities of GNU/Linux, her exasperation with Windows has grown such that she said today that if I can get the wireless card working in GNU/Linux she will switch back to GNU/Linux again.

Between the frustrations of both of these, I can see why so many people are running out and getting Apple machines instead. But Apples come with their own set of frustrations including comparatively high pricing for their equipment, along with compatibility problems with other systems, in turn requiring high-priced equipment to resolve, which of course only Apple can supply.  Some people don’t mind going this route.  I’m not sure I’m one of them.

At this point, I’ll keep fiddling with Madwifi and wait for them to smooth the rough edges off of Wine (a program that can make some Windows applications run under GNU/Linux.

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