LJ Archive

Adaptability and Ingenuity

Heather Mead

Issue #109, May 2003

Sometimes being the can-do person is a good thing, and sometimes it's not—advice for when the project rests on your shoulders.

Currently, my web article inbox is full of articles that reflect one of the tenets of the open-source philosophy—doing it yourself. Sometimes, however, we aren't doing things ourselves because we want to, but because it's our job and someone else waited too long to do his or hers. Other times, we are forced to find some way to pull it all together or watch as the whole process grinds to a halt. Out of necessity comes ingenuity, and that's most likely to be true if you're adaptable, which is one of the reasons why knowledge of Linux can be such a handy tool in your arsenal. From the articles I've seen lately, it seems that if you know Linux and open source, people are coming to you for help whether you want them to or not.

In “Installing Slash for a Private Project” (www.linuxjournal.com/article/6674), Paul Barry shares his tale of finding a way for an academic department to schedule meetings, decide on topics and record opinions and responses. To meet the department's asynchronous needs, Paul chose to use the Slashdot framework, Slash, installed locally. His article walks readers through the setup process, including installing the database back end, Apache with mod_perl support and all their dependencies. As always, Paul is humble enough to share his mistakes so you can avoid making the same ones.

If you're a system administrator, one of the most frustrating parts of your job may be dealing with people who expect you to reinvent the wheel on a day's notice. In “Configuring a Virtual Server Instance for Quick Recovery” (www.linuxjournal.com/article/6531), Jeffrey McDonald explains how he took advantage of VMware's disk modes, in both the server and workstations, to provide a new development/test environment in a day and a half. As he says, “It's cool to be able to run multiple instances of virtual servers on a single Linux host server, but easily being able to manage or back out changes to the OS and applications within the virtual server instances is even cooler.”

On the other end of the do-it-yourself spectrum, in a place we might call fun, is music—specifically, the theremin. Almost everyone wants to play some sort of instrument well. I'm still mad at my five-year-old self for refusing piano lessons. But the theremin offers us all a chance to make music in one of the most unique ways imaginable. To make it even easier, Seth David Schoen offers the “Poor Man's Theremin” (www.linuxjournal.com/article/6597), which “turns a laptop computer with an 802.11b card into a theremin-like instrument, using the signal strength reported by the card to control the pitch of a note”. Your coworkers and friends may complain, but at least they'll leave you alone for a while.

The weather is starting to break here in Seattle; we've already had a couple of those clear sunny days that exist to let you know there is more than work in life. So while we encourage everyone to take a break from the screen and keyboard—get crazy and go outside—we thank you for sharing all your stories and wait to see what you are up to next. Keep us posted at info@linuxjournal.com.

Heather Mead is senior editor of Linux Journal.

LJ Archive