Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Ghost in the machine

Brent Northcutt is something of a ghost in the machine. For I-Land Internet Services' 18,000 customers, his work would go unnoticed much of the time.

But, there, lurking in the digital background of ones and zeroes, are his programming scripts making sure that things run smoothly. As a system programmer for I-Land, the 32-year-old Warrensburg resident works his magic in languages with names such as PHP, Perl, and C++.

A dedicated adherent to what is known in the virtual realm as the open source movement, Mr. Northcutt is most at home in the Unix-based Linux operating system.

For most computer users, there is little more to using the Internet than starting up the system and hoping online. A Windows or Mac system comes pre-packed and ready to go. Linux systems require the owner to have some proficiency in Unix programming, but provide a greater versatility that allows systems to be configured to an individual's needs.

A battle of philosophical wills has simmered for years between those, like Mr. Northcutt, who advocate open source code, and business interests like Microsoft, who favor a closed system.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

Paid-for Microsoft Openwashing at LinuxCon

Android/Google Leftovers

3 open source alternatives to Office 365

It can be hard to get away from working and collaborating on the web. Doing that is incredibly convenient: as long as you have an internet connection, you can easily work and share from just about anywhere, on just about any device. The main problem with most web-based office suites—like Google Drive, Zoho Office, and Office365—is that they're closed source. Your data also exists at the whim of large corporations. I'm sure you've heard numerous stories of, say, Google locking or removing accounts without warning. If that happens to you, you lose what's yours. So what's an open source advocate who wants to work with web applications to do? You turn to an open source alternative, of course. Let's take a look at three of them. Read more

Hackable voice-controlled speaker and IoT controller hits KS

SeedStudio’s hackable, $49 and up “ReSpeaker” speaker system runs OpenWrt on a Mediatek MT7688 and offers voice control over home appliances. The ReSpeaker went live on Kickstarter today and has already reached 95 percent of its $40,000 funding goal with 29 days remaining. The device is billed by SeedStudio as an “open source, modular voice interface that allows us to hack things around us, just using our voices.” While it can be used as an Internet media player or a voice-activated IoT hub — especially when integrated with Seeed’s Wio Link IoT board — it’s designed to be paired with individual devices. For example, the campaign’s video shows the ReSpeaker being tucked inside a teddy bear or toy robot, or attached to plant, enabling voice control and voice synthesis. Yes, the plant actually asks to be watered. Read more