TurnKey Linux Virtual Appliance Library

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.

TKLPatch summer contest summary: let the judging begin!

It all started with a happy accident

I have a confession to make. This contest, which is directly fueling the largest expansion of the TurnKey library since the project started, is a happy accident. It wasn't something we planned. It wasn't on our summer todo list. It was just one of those unexpected, spontaneous ideas that light up the inside of your brain like a flash bulb, and demand you take action. Or else! (you won't get any sleep)

Back in June we had just launched the TurnKey Hub and were getting ready to focus all our energies on releasing TKLBAM. I logged into PayPal and noticed our donated beer budget had a sad little beer belly. It was just sitting there, giving me an accusing look. I felt guilty. Surely all those people who donated expected we would put these funds to better use. That's when it hit me. It was too much to buy beer, but not so much that we couldn't risk it all on a fun experiment...

I talked it over with Alon and on an impulse we decided to do a contest, but not just any contest. A wild and wet summer open source bonanza! With ponies!

What happened next took us both by surprise.

LXDE review: it zips, it flies! (base for client-side TurnKey appliances?)

At home we canceled our cable subscription a few months ago. We hardly ever used it any more. Instead we were downloading content to a makeshift media server and watching it on our own schedule. Many of the shows I like (e.g., Colbert Report) aren't even available over here.

Upstairs we had a gorgeous big screen HDTV set that was being powered by one of my old computers, a nice P4 machine with 1GB of memory that was running the TurnKey Torrent Server appliance on bare metal.

Then it died. Traced it back to the motherboard being fried by a faulty power unit. Facing an immediate home entertainment emergency, I rummaged through the basement and found an old P3 machine with 256MB of old-style memory (I.e., the kind you can't get any more of these days).