This website is constructed and hosted on open source software on a very old computer (P200, 64Mb) at my house. (actually, its just a motherboard, powersupply, and a harddrive nailed to the wall under the stairs!) GNU software and Linux make it possible to do this by connecting the website to the internet via my consumer 500kbs broadband modem, the upshot of which is that the only cost I have is the computer, the electricity and the subscription for internet connection. Other alternatives, for example, to build the site with commercial software like Micro$oft Windoze and to host it with companies who offer server packages can prove to be both expensive and very restrictive, not to mention not standards compliant (I will explain why this is important later) and far less susceptible to virus and hacking attacks. On this page I will list, linkto and explain what the software was used for in the context of this site. If you have any suggestions or spot any errors, just leave a note on the messageboard.

Knoppix is arguably the most versatile computing tool available today. A single file freely available ready to burn to a regular cd, containing a bootable distribution of Debian Linux and over 2Gb of "Must-Have" software including preconfigured web, ftp, windows file and ssh servers, alongside image manipulation, mail, virtual network servers etc. It is often used as a rescue disk. However, I became so familiar with it, it became my standard operating system. It needs no drivers, detecting all peripherals in the 2 minutes it takes to get to the K desktop, then custom menus help configure printers, networking and filesharing, with the ability to save this configuration to floppy for the next boot up. It is regularly updated and the software included is well chosen for a good mix of techie tools, and office utilities with the odd game thrown in.

Vi / Vim (Vi Improved)
For most Unix or Linux users, this mature and versatile text editor needs little introduction, A little confusing to get to grips with at first until the concept of a command mode and input mode becomes clear. To illustrate, h, j, k & l move the cursor, where as i will place you in input mode, escape will take you back to command. yy will yank (copy) a line of text, p will paste, and putting a number before your command will repeat that command so many times. therefore:- 10k10yy11jp will copy the previous 10 lines and paste them after the cursor. Most of my web scripting is done using Vi as combined with ssh, it enables me write and update files on a remote machine as if it were local. There are many other commands which are explained at the Vim website.

The P Hypertext Preprocessor scripting language can be very powerful when used in conjunction with HTML and JavaScript, enabling much more than static web pages. The PHP portion of the page is executed at the server before crossing the net, enabling pages to be dynamically stored and written, emails to be sent (via email server), files uploaded and information stored and retrieved from databases, giving the possibility to build large scale web applications useful for remote working and easy administration.

This popular open source database application I use integrates well with PHP. In short this can store large amounts of text, code, images, music and other information in such a way that it can be retrieved quickly and sorted by the relationships between chunks of data. It has been found to be very secure and stable even in huge sizes performing thousands of operations.

This Email server is probably one of the best email server software around, I use it to send my normal mail from within Thunderbird, send mail via PHP from websites for example this sites message board, keep the mailing list and everyone subscribed to the site UP-TO-DATE, and even supply family and friends with a pop mail account enabling them to have virtually unlimited space and the means to send and recieve attachments up to 50 meg in size.

A web server is the programme which actually transmits the file which makes up a web page on the HTTP protocol after a request has been made by the client machine. There are a few different brands but this one is not only very configurable (I can potentially run hundreds of different websites from one machine) but also very fast and secure, making this the most popular webserver on the planet! At the time of writing reports that 67.3% of webserving machines run Apache, seconded by Microsoft which has 21% of the market.

K Desktop Environment (KDE)
KDE is a windowing programme, one of a few, and for non nix users. It is to be compared to Windose Explorer, it contains all your folders, helps you navigate graphicaly thrugh your machine. It can also act as a web browser, an ftp client, a media player, network browser etc. However that is where the similarity to windoze ends. It also has many features which help and make my life easier, such as being able to switch between up to 16 desktops with 1 click (as linux doesnt crash, I do different tasks on different days, so {monday-graphics-desk1} {tuesday-accounts-desk2} {wednesday-videoediting-desk3}) this saves me having to set up my workspace everytime I have to do something different. I can also open multiple locations in one browser, great for moving stuff about and multitasking.

At first, a text based graphic manipulation programme may seem like an ashtray on a motorbike - but this wonderful group of programmes can save you months of labourious clicking. For instance, your website or presentation of the holiday snaps in Greece all need to be resized and it would be really nice if they had a border, a drop shadow and the date put in the bottom right hand corner. On 17 virtual rolls of film from your new digicam its gonna take you a month of sundays and you'll still never get them perfect. Well, now you can do this :- for img in `ls *.jpg` do convert -sample 100x75 $img thumb-$img; done and all your pictures have matching thumnails with a thumb- prefix. You can also use PHP, so if you want to allow your website visitors to upload jpgs, its possible to query each picture for size and resize it if required or convert it from .bmp to .jpg. My BMW motorbike doesnt have an ashtray, but it does have a cigar lighter on the dash.

Out of all the browsers available I believe this to be the best, sure most people use Internet Explorer, but I have found that it doesnt render things correctly, sizes are wrong, etc. Mozilla on the other hand, has a good 'virus beating' mail application built in, the page looks the same on Windeze, Linux or Mac and seems to run and render far faster and it is the closest to standards compliance, you can stop popups - that Bash a Mole game with adverts, and control cookies on the fly (small programs used by webpages). "Mozilla Firefox Portable" doesnt even have to be installed (on Windblows), just unzip and run! There, I didnt get too technical with the differences in the Javascript and css code.....if (ie){width=193} else{width=200} Opera is good too, but I will not use a browser with adverts built in.

The GNU Image Manipulation Program is the free By the people for the people version of fotoshop, a little daunting at first but very powerful and capable of editing virtually all image formats animated gifs and even video. I find it very easy and accurate when used with a tablet and pen (not that I do much of that anymore) more so than PSP on windblows. It has a very wide range of plugins and filters and produces some very good quality results on large format images. One of the plus points to this software is the vast amount of support, for example: scripts, pallets, textures etc which users have created with and for the program, and because of the GNU licence, it all becomes available to you and me.

"Music Helps Morale!" I am a big fan of musical wallpaper and radio listening while I work. Indeed it helps me keep my calm when things arn't running as smoothly as they should be. Xmms is the OpenSource equivelent of WinAmp and generaly looks and acts the same. Indeed, they both also support Ogg Vorbis (the Open Source Version of Mp3) and anyone should consider at least downloading and trying this music player, even to try the plethera of radio stations found on the below website. NOTE : Use a comfortable pair of headphones to let your ears breathe and your neighbours concentrate!

The internet is generally a quiet place, this is often a good thing because you can choose your own music or have silence whilst you browse., However sometimes it is necessary to transmit music or video files and due to the large size, it seems wise to allow the listener to start playing before the download is complete. This is where streaming comes in. The music is encoded or compressed on one machine then sent via a network to the serving machine which then connects to the client machine or multiple client machines. Essentially broadcasting is fundamentally impossible, narrowcasting involves using RSTP protocol (based on UDP) to send the information without error checking or bothering about dropped packets. The client machine has to respond with a handshake to collect the next packet. So with machines around the world having differing ping speeds (a packets round trip) lots of bandwidth is used up. I have used Real Helix servers and these work very well but for two facts: your client has to use RealPlayer which is licensed, and the unlicensed Helix server will only connect to 10 clients at once regardless of bandwidth. Enter Icecast and MPEG4IP.

So, you have your server, everything works except any domain name you have cannot resolve to your machine because your BT/VIRGIN/SKY/AT&T broadband modem runs using a dynamic ip (DHCP), each time you switch your computer off, you run the risk of someone elses computer being assigned your temporary ip address. Then you get a different one next time you connect. This is due to there not being enough numbers to go around, an issue being addressed (exuse the pun) by what is called IPv6. You have two options:
  1. you buy a static IP address, which then turns your account to a business account with all the costs that will incur, but you can keep the same IP address.
  2. Sign up for a DynDns account and domain name; then install the little programme they give you on your machine. When you reboot, the programme tells DynDns your IP address and changes the direction of the domain name. If you already have a domain name, they can manage it, or you could just redirect your name to the one DynDns gave you.

Strictly, this doesnt belong in this list as I dont use it to create websites. However I do use it for receiving video streams, watching DVDs, VCDs and other video media, as well as encoding video to more usable formats. It is used at the command line simply by typing:- mplayer -nofs ./me_in_greece.avi the -nofs switch stops the player from filling the screen by default, giving me a window and the ability to size it how I wish. There is a vast library of codecs available for file types such as mpg, divx, mp4, rm, etc and the application can run on all types of computers from pcs and macs to PDAs and set top boxes.

Dynamic Drive
We are going back to basics here. To build a website, even if you use a graphic interfaced program, you are going to come in to contact with HTML CSS and JavaScript and its better you know a little, if not a lot, about all three. You will have to learn at least a few HTML tags, like

you get the idea? well, this and many more sites like it will help you with the rudimentary skills.


Samba is a windows file sharing programme for Linux and Unix. This means that with a little fiddling, I can connect my Win9*/NT/ME/2000/XP/Vista/7 to the same network or across the internet and place my files in the directory of the webserver just as easily as copying files from one drive to another (although I prefer other methods using ssh), I can also use it to share a printer on the network. At least, that is if I could afford the licence for a Windows machine.

Micro Core Linux
In the past, I have used lots of different distrobutions for development, testing and mucking about uses. MicroCore Linux is my favourite no nonsence platform. its about 8Mb for a running command console, then Samba, MySql, Apache and PHP are downloaded and installed in a few easily selected (proprietry) packages. Its extremly simple, small and quick to use. There is also a Tiny Core Linux (about 12Mb) which includes a graphical desktop and tools for a mouse driven server.

no-ip DNS Management
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