TurnKey Linux Virtual Appliance Library

Tweaking Django exceptions with custom middleware

When settings.DEBUG is set to False, exception tracebacks will be sent to settings.ADMINS. To make it simpler to track down how and why the exception was raised, it's beneficial to know which user caused the exception.

It's quite simple to do this using some custom middleware. In the Hub, we include the associated users email address in the exception with the following:

Headless PHP Drupal script deletes spam zombie user accounts

For for the last few months automatic bots have been creating hundreds of zombie accounts per day on the TurnKey web site. I'm not sure why they bother. I assume it has something to do with spamming, but they never log in. Besides, spam almost never gets past our content filter (Mollom) and when it does we always nuke it. Zero tolerance.

Brains...

Meanwhile these zombie accounts are polluting my precious database, and that bothers me. Besides, call me prejudiced, but I just hate zombies. You're either alive or you're dead. Pick a side!

Announcing the winners of the first TurnKey development contest

Ladies and gentlemen, by now you are all shuddering in anticipation, dying to find out who won the very first TurnKey appliance development contest... in the history of the universe!

The stakes couldn't be higher. In truth, all three of our winners will lavish in (varying proportions of) unending fame and riches, but only one man will get the exotic, elusive embodiment of the Django pony goddess. Oh ye most blasphemous infidel will ask, why thee persists in worshiping a pony, thus pink and plush. Hush I say, tis not any earthly pony we worship, but the very symbol of the holy bond that ties all open source communities together. So say we all!

On good web design

A few months ago I was looking for ways to improve the TurnKey web site. I spent a lot of time researching good web site design online by:

  1. studying the theory of web site design from such resources as "a list apart".
  2. "reverse engineering" the design of existing successful web sites:
    • Good.is online magazine / community
    • The Wordpress blog
    • Techcrunch
    • A List Apart (they're the experts on web site design and usability)

I payed especially close attention to the social aspects of the web sites I was studying as I was interested in improving the social experience on the TurnKey web site as well.

I wanted to improve my understanding of good web design in general. Not just for my work on the TurnKey web site. By then we were discussing our ideas for the TurnKey Hub and it was clear it would come in handy for that as well.

Programming insight that helped unblock me

I'm finding a big part of the context switch involved in getting back to a high level of productivity on my programming is relearning old lessons.

In particular one of the most important lessons is to figure out how to systematically break down different goals into separate steps in a way that allows you to concentrate your full brain power on each of those steps in succession rather than trying to get it all done at once.

UDS - Natty Narwhal summary

New release candidates for TurnKey Linux 11.0 (part 1)

We've pushed out new RC (Release Candidates) builds for part 1 of the upcoming TurnKey Linux 11.0 release and we need your help testing them! See the appliance pages for download links.

The current crop of release candidates only include Ubuntu Lucid based ISO images for now. Debian Lenny based images will follow, as will builds specially optimized for the the full range of supported virtualization and hosting platforms (e.g., VM build, EC2 AMIs, ESX4, Xen, Eucalyptus, etc.).

To Lisp or not to Lisp, that is the question.

Musings on Lisp by a routinely Pythonic programmer

Last week I did some maintenance on various Python projects I haven't touched in years (literally), and I was surprised by how easy, almost trivial it was to reorient myself and make the necessary changes.

That observation came at the right time because I've been reading up on Lisp dialects for a while now and questioning whether or not I should be programming in Lisp instead. Lisp enthusiasts (converts?) certainly make persuasive arguments, typically advocating Lisp as the one-true-language with near religious zeal.

Finding the closest APT package archive using GeoIP and indexing

In preparation for TurnKey's upcoming release based on Ubuntu Lucid 10.04 LTS, we are knocking off todo list items. One of them is code-named auto-apt-archive. As you can guess from its name, the objective is to configure the closest APT package archive mirror, automatically, without user intervention. It does this by leveraging a new GeoIP service provided by the TurnKey Hub.

Meet Rik Goldman

Rik Goldman is the English and Info Systems teacher that led a team of six high school students to help develop 3 new TurnKey Linux appliances for Ampache, LimeSurvey and Elgg.

Rik is the kind of passionate teacher I wish I had in high school. An innovative thinker who isn't afraid to step outside the box to challenge his students to achieve more.

We wanted everyone to get to know Rik better, so we interviewed him for this blog post.