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On Politics, Porn Detectors and Linuxy Tricks

By Katherine Noyes LinuxInsider ECT News Network
Nov 10, 2008 4:00 AM PT

So the election came to an end at last, and the people made their choice. All throughout the blogosphere, fireworks could be heard as Obama supporters reveled in their triumph.

On Politics, Porn Detectors and Linuxy Tricks

Long live the Internet, and the new political landscape it has produced! Things will never be the same again, that's for sure.

Zeroing in on the Linux blogs, more repercussions could be felt as bloggers wondered whether Obama would usher in a new, more open type of government. Larry Cafiero, for example -- also known as the Free Software Guy -- pondered the meaning of CNN analyst Alex Castellanos's use of the phrase "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" in discussing the changing paradigm.

'The Best 30 Seconds of Air Time'

In effect, Castellanos's comments gave FOSS "the best 30 seconds of national air time in quite awhile," Cafiero asserted on LXer, where the story led to some lively discussion.

Responses to Thomas Teisberg's Nov. 3 post titled "Why Barack Obama Needs To Be Our Next President," meanwhile, continued for several days after the elections were over, as bloggers went back and forth on what it would all mean for the country and for Linux.

"Wow, great post!" wrote Tom in response.

"There is at least an indirect connection to Linux. I believe that making broadband Internet access cheaper and more widely available will accelerate the trend toward cloud computing, and this trend favors Linux," he added.

'Considerably Kinder to Science'

"I think it is safe to say that an Obama administration is going to be a lot more technologically savvy," Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told LinuxInsider.

"The other thing that's interesting is I think he's going to be considerably kinder to science than anything we've seen during the last few years," with increased funding for the National Institutes of Health and pure research, among other efforts, King noted.

"I'd expect technology to be one of the beneficiaries, so I think it's reasonable to assume that open source solutions could benefit as part of that," he said.

Linux-Based Porn Detector

There was absolutely no mention of such topics on Slashdot, oddly enough, where the conversation was relatively politics-free. News of what's described as a Linux-based "breath test" to detect porn on PCs seemed to rouse the Slashdot crowd a little bit -- "I'll be safe since I rename all my files as 'Top Secret: Hot Japanese Satellite images,'" quipped Killer Orca -- but by far the most active discussion was the thread titled "(Useful) Stupid Unix Tricks?"

"The other day I messaged another admin from the console using the regular old 'write' command (as I've been doing for over 10 years)," began no comment in a journal entry. "To my surprise he didn't know how to respond back to me (he had to call me on the phone) and had never even known you could do that.

"That got me thinking that there's probably lots of things like that, and likely things I've never heard of," no comment continued. "What sorts of things do you take for granted as a natural part of Unix that other people are surprised at?"

Week of Tips

A virtual stampede of more than 2,000 comments had been made by Friday -- as many as we've seen in some time -- with myriad cryptic descriptions of what must be every clever, rascally and just plain tricky Linux trick under the sun -- or maybe not. (Editor's note: Unless you're a Linux expert, be sure to check with one regarding any suggestions that come from unknown sources, such as commenters on blog postings. Some "tricks" could damage your system.)

Coincidentally, iTWire offered 12 related tips in a Wednesday post titled "I Didn't Know You Could Do That in Linux!"

It seemed to be a week for tips and tricks, so we here at LinuxInsider couldn't resist hitting the virtual streets to see if others had anything different to add.

Just to Name a Few...

"Weird tricks?" began Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack, who then went on to give LinuxInsider several:

  • "Tar takes hostnames," he said. "'tar xcvf user@host files/' will prompt you for that user's ssh password."
  • "pppoe connection keeps dropping at odd hours? Put this into a cronjob to restart it when it goes down: '/bin/ps -C pppd &>/dev/null || pon dsl-provider'," he suggested. "pppd likes to shut down if it can't login. This will restart it on the next cronjob."
  • "Have a second computer that you want to migrate your Debian-based system to, but don't want to go through the trouble of finding every package you had installed? To save your package, list:

    • dpkg --get-selections > selections.txt

  • To restore:
    • dpkg --set-selections < selections.txt
    • dselect update
    • apt-get dselect-upgrade," he said.

One Winning Idea

What say you to them tricks, dear readers?

"I didn't follow much of the Slashdot article, and 11 out of 12 of the 'I Didn't Know You Could Do That in Linux!' things were actually 'I can't believe Windows can't do something so blindly obvious!'," Slashdot blogger Mhall119 told LinuxInsider. "I mean, mount points are pretty standard fare, not exactly a 'trick' in my book.

"That said, No. 12 I found very informative, and 'sudo apt-get install nautilus-actions' will probably be the first command run on my box when I get home this evening."

Nothing we like more than to hear from Linux fans inspired to do even more with our favorite operating system. Keep those tricks coming!


download NICE inContact Remote Agent Checklist
Which technology has the strongest positive or negative impact on race relations?
Smartphone cameras, by holding people accountable.
Twitter, by reporting news as it happens.
Facebook, by providing a platform for discussing the issues.
YouTube, by exposing viewers to other cultures.
Twitter, by fueling antagonisms.
Facebook, by spreading fake news.
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