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Linux Journal February 2012, #214 (Digital)

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Issue #214, February 2012

More Than Dark Rooms and Red Lights

Developing photographs used to be a mysterious process that took place in rooms lit like horror films, using pans of dangerous chemicals. From those creepy rooms eventually emerged beautiful photographs of literally everything under the sun. Web development is surprisingly similar. If you replace the dangerous chemicals with a clacking keyboard and the red lights with the blue glow of an LCD screen, they're just about the same. This month, we delve into the mystical world of Web development, which turns ordinary tags and scripts into the beautiful Web sites we visit every day.

Reuven M. Lerner is right at home with our focus this month and shows us Sinatra. No, he doesn't teach us to be crooners; instead, he demonstrates the micro-framework that makes small Web apps a breeze to create. If you need to do something small, and Ruby seems like overkill, give Sinatra a try.

Dave Taylor explains how to make a small program this month as well, but his script is a little more nefarious. If you want to be a lying, cheating dog when you play Scrabble against your friends, Dave can help you out. He shows how to make a shell script that finds words based on the letters you have. As a purely educational endeavor, it's a great article, but as of now, I will no longer play Words With Friends with any Linux Journal readers!

Kyle Rankin continues his series on GPU-powered password cracking. Even if you're not interested in learning to brute-force attack passwords, I recommend reading his article. It will convince you to use a strong password quicker than any warning I might give you. Don't tell Kyle I told you, but I watched him enter his password once at a conference. It's just a bunch of asterisks!

I got into the Web-themed spirit this month too. This month we're launching a brand-new column, written by yours truly. The Open-Source Classroom is an education-focused column, and this month, I break down the venerable Moodle software package. Moodle has matured so much since we last covered it, I felt it deserved some attention.

Ruby on Rails is a very popular Web framework, but Henry Van Styn knows that it's not the only show in town. He describes how to develop Web applications with Catalyst and Perl. Regardless of the framework you use to develop, an application is only as good as the server hosting it. Martin Kalin shows us the nitty-gritty of Web servers and explains multiprocessing, multithreading and evented I/O. The Internet demands a lot from our Web servers, and Martin helps us understand exactly how those demands are met.

Possibly bigger than even the Web 2.0 buzz of a few years ago is the transition to HTML5. Although to most folks it's just a bunch of geek jargon, for Web programmers it means user interaction like never before. Paul Freitas shows how to take advantage of HTML5 to serve up audio. No, we don't mean those annoying MIDI files playing when the page loads, but rather using plain-old HTML tags to play audio on your Web site. If it sounds too simple to be true, you'll want to read Paul's article.

What if you want to develop a Web site, but you're not a programmer? That's where content management systems like Drupal come into play. Kenneth P. J. Dyer walks through designing a Web site with Drupal 7. The learning curve for using Drupal traditionally has been pretty steep, but with version 7, that's starting to change. Kenneth teaches how things work in Drupal and gets us started on our way to developing a powerful and flexible Web site.

We never alienate our non-developer readers in issues like this, and this month is no different. We have tons of UpFront articles, product announcements and even some handy tips to make your Linux life a little easier. In fact, this month James Gray had an opportunity to interview Stephen Wolfram. Yes, that Stephen Wolfram. Whether you're a math nut who loves Mathematica or are fascinated by the Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine, this is an interview you won't want to miss.

So until next month, keep clacking those keyboards. If turning on a red light will help you develop Web sites, by all means, feel free to do so. The only dangerous chemical we recommend, however, is caffeine. If you want to drink your coffee out of developing trays, well, I guess that's up to you. Either way, we hope you enjoy this issue!

122 pages.

Delivered in .pdf and (high-speed connection STRONGLY recommended for download).

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