Setting up LAMP in 5 Minutes or Less

11 09 2008

I’ve explained in an earlier post what exactly the LAMP stack is, and how it is powering web applications on the internet. Setting it up is pretty quick and dirty if you’ve got a Linux system but what about the folks on Windows and OS X? Speak no more. XAMP is here to the rescue. It installs mySQL, Apache, and PHP on your machine with no fuss. You can even launch Apache/mySQL as a service so you don’t even have to worry about starting it up (or shutting it down for that matter). You’ll be setup in 5 mins flat.

Set Your Terminal To Your Current Finder Window

31 07 2007

Ever since I’ve been exposed to the terminal I can’t go back. I found a handy open source app called >CD to…(weird name) which sits in your Finder toolbar. This means you can be browsing some folder directories deep, and when you click on the >CD To… icon it will open up your shell and point you to the directory you are in. Very useful for those Mac users who want to get their hands a little dirty.

Handbrake – Open Source DVD Ripping

29 07 2007

Its been a while since I’ve updated my blog. I’ve been busy with work and playing with the new Mac, but fear not, in the process I’ve discovered a great DVD ripping app called Handbrake. It can rip any DVD you throw at it regardless of protection/encryption or not. You want to preserve the chapters, original quality or export it to your iPod? It can do that too. If you’ve got a dual-core machine expect to rip a full DVD in 10 minutes or less =). As always its open-source and cross platform so you can run it on Windows, OS X or Linux.

What is LAMP?

16 07 2007

This post is now available on my new blog The IT Report:

Wake Up and Smell The Concrete – You’re Using Open-Source

11 07 2007

I would like to point out that no matter which operating system you may be using, we all have reaped the benefits of open-source. Believe it or not, there is a little bit of free software goodness in all of us:

Windows Users

  • I’d say browsing the internet is a must these days. Did you know that the TCP/IP stack in Windows is based off of the original code that was licensed by BSD?
  • Firefox is clearly gaining new ground on Internet Explorer’s turf. The Mozilla Foundation is all about the open-source baby.

Mac users

  • The entire OS X operating system is based off of the Darwin kernel which, surprise surprise, is a UNIX variant.
  • KHTML is the engine that renders web-pages in Safari. Yup, another gift given to you by the free software foundation.
  • Have you ever printed out a report on your Mac? You just used CUPS which is the Common UNIX Printing Service.
  • Apple has plans to ditch Microsoft and go completely with Open Office in the near future. It just feels better to be using open standards no?

Linux Users

  • Do you even have to ask? The entire operating system and included applications are all open-source.

The Web

  • Whenever you visit a website like Digg the content is automatically updated and generated for your viewing pleasure. Chances are its running on the LAMP stack – Linux + Apache + MySQL + PHP, check check check and check for open-source.
  • Google is my best friend. They also run Linux clusters so you get your search results in under a second.
  • Developers pay attention, Java is the most popular enterprise platform, and Sun just opened up its source for our hacking pleasure.
  • Whenever you blog on WordPress, or Drupal just know it was built using open source tools, and licensed under the GNU.
  • When I want information I go to Wikipedia. Wikipedia runs off of the open-source software MediaWiki which is also under the GNU.

Electrical Devices

  • Intel based computer’s have open source drivers. This means compatibility for everyone.
  • Set-top boxes like TiVo are using open source software to get you goodness on the big screen. MPlayer anyone?

As you can see open-source is all around us. The points I have mentioned are nowhere near the extent and true caliber of what open source delivers to us on a daily basis. Please enlighten me with your thoughts.

Free Software Licenses in a Nutshell

30 06 2007

When I jumped into the Linux/open-source world I didn’t know nor care about the different licenses software had attached with it. I guess I was used to adhering to whatever license that was forced upon me by Microsoft. Now I have a choice. There are many software licenses out there – here are a few popular ones in a nutshell:


The General Public License is the foundation for many other licenses. It is the most popular license in open-source and prevents copyleft – restrictions on distributing copies and modified versions of a work for others and requiring that the same freedoms be preserved in modified versions. GPLv1 states that all binaries must have human readable source code attached in the distribution. It also indicates that another license that your software may carry cannot restrict clauses in the GPL. Many software vendors will try and use that as a loophole to benefit from open source while retaining their enhancements to themselves.


The major change in v2 is the Liberty or Death Clause in Section 7. This states that if your software has some restriction where it violates GPL-covered property, then it cannot be distributed. For example, if a legal ruling states that they can only distribute the software in binary form, they cannot distribute it at all. The Linux kernel is covered by this license currently, and the license prevents others from just taking the source, modifying it and not contributing back to the community that founded it.


Known as the Lesser General Public License, its name is reflective of its clauses – it has less restrictions. LGPL lets you distribute modified work that is linked to free or proprietary software. For example, if you write a media center application ontop of the MPlayer library, under the LGPL you are allowed to distribute the software regardless of the MPlayer library being open-source or binary. This was instituted to give users more freedom.


This is license was just recently published and addresses the issues of cross-patent licenses and anti-tivoization. Cross patent licenses for example, the Novell-Microsoft agreement, under the GPLv3 indicates that you cannot convey your product to a distributor who will charge their customers for your work. The license is also meant to require Microsoft to extend the patent licenses it grants to Novell customers for the use of GPLv3 software to all users of that GPLv3 software; this is possible only if Microsoft is legally a “conveyor” (distributor) of the GPLv3 software.

Tivoization is the creation of a system that uses copyleft protected software but includes hardware that restricts users from running modified versions of the software on the hardware. It is named after TiVo because it uses open-source software, however that software when modified deems your TiVo device unusable, and is illegal under the the GPLv3.

BSD License

The GPL requires derivative work to be released according to the GPL while the BSD license does not. Essentially, the BSD licence’s only requirement is to acknowledge the original authors, and poses no restrictions on how the source code may be used. As a result, BSD code can find its way into proprietary software that only acknowledge the source. For instance, the IP Stack in Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X are derived from BSD-licensed software.

MPL License

Source code copied or changed under the MPL must stay under the MPL. Unlike strong copyleft licenses, the code under the MPL may be combined in a program with proprietary files which would otherwise be derivative works of the MPL code. For example Netscape 6 and later releases were proprietary versions of the Mozilla Application Suite. For these Netscape releases, AOL was also exercising the exclusive rights to proprietary versions that the another license provided to itself.

I have merely skimmed the surface of the purpose of licenses in the free software world. I did not mention dual licensing, or compatability between different licenses, or the myriad of other licenses available for that matter, though I encourage you to do some extra reading if you’re interested! Again, I am not a lawyer nor am I very familiar with the technical aspects of the licenses, so please correct me if there is a mistake or post a comment if you have anything to add!


Glipper – A Real Clipboard For Ubuntu

29 06 2007

Glipper is a very handy tool to have in your toolbox. It maintains a clipboard history of everything that you’ve copied. So say I copied something from and also copied some text from – with Glipper I can easily insert both copied text. Normally the latter material that was copied would have overwritten the former but a clipboard history solves this problem. Some Ubuntu users might also cringe at the fact the clipboard is cleared everytime an application is closed. So if I copied a URL from Firefox, and wanted to paste it into gedit, but closed Firefox, my copied URL is now gone because the clipboard was cleared. Glipper maintains all of your copies so you don’t have to worry about these little quirks anymore. Glipper is in the universe so you can search for it in Synaptic and install or if you’re a term kind of guy like me:

“sudo apt-get install glipper”

Google Desktop Search vs Tracker

29 06 2007

After reading Mohammad’s blog post about Google Desktop, I thought I’d take it for a spin since I’m a GDS fan when I’m on XP. Though I’ve only been using it for two days, I soon realized that I am going back to Tracker. Here’s why:

1. Memory Footprint

GDS is costing me 50MB+ for the search utility, the indexing process, and the tray icon. Tracker peaks at about 4MB for me – and that includes the indexing process.

2. No Deskbar Integration

With tracker I can integrate it into my deskbar. I can launch apps, search the web/desktop, and run system level commands from one place. GDS is limited to only searching the web/desktop, so as a power user I’m still stuck using 2 applications, when I can be using one integrated solution. I hope in the future we will be able to integrate GDS into the Deskbar, but it seems unlikely since GDS is a closed-source binary.

3. Firefox Results

GDS displays search results in Firefox. Though this is nice, we all know that FF isn’t the fastest loading application in our toolbox. Tracker has its own native GTK+ search window which loads up a lot quicker.

3. Privacy

If enabled, Google can monitor your usage, which they claim is non-personal information. I’m still a bit weary about anyone collecting my data for that matter, even if its Google who sees, hears, and speaks no evil. Tracker just does its job, it searches. No fuss or hassle.

One thing I will note however – GDS is blazing fast. It picks up search results as I type, faster than Tracker. The speed difference isn’t enough to outweigh its large memory footprint though. I am indexing my root folder which is the culprit for GDS eating up my memory, but if Tracker can do it efficiently, I expect the boys at Google to do so as well =).

Secure Your Connection With Open Source

25 06 2007

You never know who may be watching your connection. With constitution violators like AT&T and other service providers your data can be in the hands of big brother. Here are a few tips for securing your online experience, so you can enjoy the web in peace.

1. Encrypt E-Mail Messages

Assuming you use GMail, FireGPG is a great Firefox extension that encrypts your messages. It can only be decrypted with a GPG key that only trusted parties will have access to.

2. Encrypt Instant Messages

GAIM is the most popular instant messaging platform on the internet. Encrypting your messages is cake with the gaim-encryption plugin. Nobody likes an eavesdropper.

3. Encrypt Torrent Downloads

With bit-torrent activity coming under heavy fire from the RIAA and Hollywood, encrypting your torrents is important. Azureus allows you to enable Transport Encryption which will make it harder to track what you are downloading.

4. Block Suspicious Incoming/Outgoing Connections

Peer Gaurdian is a great tool that blocks incoming and outgoing connections based on IP blocklists. Government probes, RIAA bots, and and spyware won’t be able to enter or exit your computer.

5. Anonymize Internet Surfing

Who really needs to know exactly which sites you are visiting? Xerobank Browser (previously called Torpark) lets you browse the web anonymously so that your IP is not exposed. You can even get a portable version that runs off of your flash drive, in those times where you can’t browse the web from your own computer.

Security has its limitations. There are no patches for human stupidity, however there are open-source technologies that will suffice.

Post Scriptum:
For those of you interested in how the government and companies are sacrificing your privacy, be sure to check out the CNBC special Big Brother Big Business.

Dia – The Microsoft Visio Alternative

22 06 2007

This post is now available on my new blog The IT Report:—the-microsoft-viso-alternative


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