LJ Archive


Keeping It Cool...

Shawn Powers

Issue #218, June 2012

Three days ago here in northern Michigan, we had a heavy frost overnight. Those gardeners who ambitiously planted their plants early had to cover them with tarps or tents to make sure they didn't die in the frigid night. Yesterday, the temperature was 96°F. Michigan weather is weird. This month is our Cool Projects issue, so even if the temperature continues to push 100°, I'll rely on the June issue of Linux Journal to keep things cool.

Reuven M. Lerner starts the issue off with a great way to make your sites look nice, even if you're not a designer. Twitter Bootstrap is a framework that has gained lots of following during the past year, and Reuven shows why. Speaking of “why”, Dave Taylor continues down his dark path as he describes how to cheat at Draw Something. If you liked the fame and fortune Dave's Scrabble scripts provided, you'll likely feel right at home with his next round of rule augmentation. In all seriousness, Dave uses some pretty cool methods for teaching powerful scripting techniques. We won't judge him too harshly, because it's all done in the name of education. Still, I'm never playing an on-line game against him!

Kyle Rankin has been chatting with me over IRC for months about his new toy. This month, you get to see the all details, as he shows off his fancy 3-D printer. Whether you try the model Kyle bought or decide a different style is more appropriate for your needs, the concepts are fairly similar. And as much as I resisted the idea of 3-D printing, I have to admit I sort of want to try it myself. At the very least, printing knick-knacks as gifts might be a way to help fund the purchase. Oh, and Kyle? My birthday is in July. I really could use a charging stand for my phone!

Inside a hot server room, nothing is quite as cool as Linux. In my Open-Source Classroom column this month, I talk about file serving. As far as the “cool factor” goes, it may not be the most exciting thing to set up, but it's a great way to introduce Linux into a traditionally proprietary environment. Following my column, I got to review a seriously awesome desktop computer from Polywell. The i2303 looks like a nettop but behaves like a workstation-class machine. Find out if this little powerhouse ticks all your boxes as well.

Amit Saha introduces a really cool project this month, ownCloud. If you like the convenience of cloud computing, but worry about someone else controlling your data, why not make your own cloud? Supporting everything from file storage to music management, ownCloud allows you to access all your data from a browser. Rather than the other end of that browser connecting to a giant server farm, however, it can connect to your own servers, or at least servers you control.

Sometimes systems don't come with all-inclusive components like ownCloud. James Litton explores integrating disparate systems this month, even if they aren't designed to do so. In situations like these, it's often just as important to be creative as it is to program well! Rebecca “Ruji” Chapnik follows that creativity through with her article on video art. Although many people assume a Macintosh computer is the only way to survive in the world of video and animation, Rebecca proves that theory wrong. Whether you want to do screencasts, stop motion, animation or non-linear video editing, Linux has the tools you need. Rebecca even shows how to make animated GIFs!

If your idea of a cool project is more along the lines of wall-mounted circuit boards and multi-monitor interfaces, you're in good company. Marcin Teodorczyk shows off his wall-mounted computer and explains how he tweaked it along with his laptop to create a Frankenstein-like computing environment that does everything he commands. Using multi-headed Linux and Synergy, he controls the various computers from a central keyboard and mouse. It's pretty cool stuff.

Some of you may like more subtle versions of “cool” for your projects. That's where something like Howard Powell's article on ZFS and Btrfs might tickle your fancy. Everyone's comfortable with RAID and LVM, but with filesystems like ZFS and Btrfs, much of the RAID overhead is gone. Although ZFS isn't new technology, it's fairly new to the Linux world. Howard talks about the concepts and nuances of these exciting filesystems.

Whether you're just starting to feel the heat of summer or if you've never left it, the Cool Projects issue is always a refreshing read. We hope you enjoy it; we sure enjoyed putting it together for you!

Shawn Powers is the Associate Editor for Linux Journal. He's also the Gadget Guy for LinuxJournal.com, and he has an interesting collection of vintage Garfield coffee mugs. Don't let his silly hairdo fool you, he's a pretty ordinary guy and can be reached via e-mail at info@linuxjournal.com. Or, swing by the #linuxjournal IRC channel on Freenode.net.

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