LJ Archive


A Chicken in Every Pot and Linux in Every Pocket

Shawn Powers

Issue #203, March 2011

The problem with mind-control devices is they generally work only in very close proximity to the host. In our ongoing quest to take over the world, we've come up with a way to keep our open-source mind probes tethered to our victims at all times: embedding Linux into the phones of the populace. With the help of Google and its vow against being evil (tee-hee!), we've taken over a significant percentage of the market. Soon, our free ideals and open standards will take over the world! MWAHAHAHA!

Okay, perhaps I should avoid watching vintage sci-fi films right before writing my column. Nonetheless, this month is an exciting issue. Our focus is “Linux in Your Pocket”. Whether you're a fan of Android, Maemo, MeeGo or Moblin, the mobile computer market is busting at the seams with tablets, phones and Netbook crossovers.

Having armies of Android minions is pointless if you can't program them to bend to your will, and Paul Barry shows us that Java isn't the only way to make Android apps. Python is a very popular scripting language, and Python for Android opens up mobile device programming for a whole bunch of people. If Android isn't your cup of tea, you might be interested in MeeGo 1.1. Ibrahim Haddad describes the ins and outs of the project that sprouted from Intel's Moblin and Nokia's Maemo. Some people love it, and some people hate it, but it works on both Netbooks and smartphones, so trying it should be pretty simple.

Granted, merely running Linux on mobile devices isn't a recipe for world domination, but Stuart Jarvis explains how to keep tabs on the world itself with Marble. The KDE program, which is a virtual globe, has been ported to mobile devices that support Nokia's Qt framework. Although spinning a globe on your handheld certainly is entertaining, because it's a digital globe, the features are a bit more robust. We may have gotten ants dizzy on the globe in geography class back in school; however, with Marble, you get a smart globe capable of mapping destinations and planning trips. If you add augmented reality to the mix, you can take a complete vacation without ever taking your eyes off your phone! Rick Rogers shows how to use augmented reality with HTML5 for an experience reminiscent of the heads-up display used in every first-person-shooter game ever made. I don't recommend walking around with your cell phone strapped to your face, but it does make quick order of unfamiliar surroundings.

If by some odd chance you're not a mad scientist bent on creating pocket-sized mind-control devices, fear not. This issue has many other great articles and columns to scratch that Linux itch. Kyle Rankin starts a series on personal servers, proving that everyone can be sysadmins, even if they never leave their home offices. Whether you're looking to host a local file server or manage Internet services from your basement, Kyle's series is an exciting one for those interested in taking charge of their data. If you do host your own server, you'll want to read Mick Bauer's column as well—part I of his interview with a system cracker.

If programming is more up your alley, check out Reuven M. Lerner's column this month. Now that Ruby on Rails is at version 3, you probably want to know what that means if you're a Ruby programmer. Reuven describes what's new, what's the same, and why you might care either way. Additionally, Dave Taylor teaches us more about shell scripting, again with a really fun project. If you've ever played Mad Libs, you know it can be fun. In fact, if you follow along with Dave, you might not even realize you're learning as you go, because Mad Libs can be wildly entertaining.

We've also got product reviews, like Bill Childer's review of the NOOKcolor (which he totally hacked and tells us how to do the same). It's a great way to get a decent tablet at a cheap price, and also read some books along the way. Mike Diehl follows, showing application creation with Radical Breeze's Illumination Software Creator. For those of you who don't actually like to write code, Mike has just the programming framework for you.

As for me, I'm going to read Chuck Elliot's article on programming Bluetooth devices. I see half the population walking around with Bluetooth earpieces attached to their heads. If I can just reprogram them to emit subliminal messages to their hosts, I can have a zombie army in no time! MWAHAHAHA!

Oh, right. Turn off the late night sci-fi and get this issue in the mail. Done and done. Enjoy!

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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