UNIX / Linux Support Services

My experience with UNIX

I started with UNIX in the late eighties, which makes my UNIX Career almost as old as UNIX itself.

I have been a Mac user for the largest part of my life. The first time I got in contact with UNIX was when I developed the e-mail system for R&W Bio-Research in 1988. We already had an e-mail and news feed from NLNet (currently UUNet).

The e-mail was scheduled retrieved from NLNet using a program named UUCP. An acronym for Unix to Unix Copy Program. When the mail arrived within our LAN, it was automatically routed to the recipients mailbox and the user automatically got a ‘you have mail’ audio message from Eudora. This was early nineties. We already had e-mail addresses on our business cards and Letterheads.

UUCP was a great asset for our Research company since it also brought UseNet, a  global discussion platform where we could easily discuss the complicated issues which we encountered in our daily jobs with top-scientists from all over the world. In that time, the Internet was still a network exclusively for Academics and Scientists.

I also  had support by phone from a guy named “Ted Lindgreen“. A pioneer in TCP/IP and the early Internet. Sometimes I could see the names of the other customers of NLNet, all big companies, newspapers and magazines. R&W seemed unique.

During that time I also got a dial-up account which gave me access to the terminal. Unique at those days, few people  had ever seen a UNIX terminal before.

I was greatly inspired by a book I had read, The Cuckoo’s Egg (1989) by Clifford Stoll. It was the story of a system administrator in Berkely who tracked down a small group of hackers who had access to Telnet and tried to spy for the russians by telnetting to military hosts. Off course I was curious and tried to repeat what was in the book. And guess what… It was all true! I could Telnet into the systems of the FBI, CIA and a number of military sites. Just as the book described. Later on I had mail contact with the author. Very exciting! If you are interested, try to get a hand on the book, it’s really nice to read!

I liked to use CompuServe’s Knowledge Index (KI) because it gave free access to Dialog Information Services. The only problem was that it wasn’t available during business hours because CompuServe made it available for students only . A problem that was quickly solved by telnetting to a server in China (where there were different business hours and from there telnetting to CompuServe. I could now use Knowledge Index during normal Business hours.

When I attended a course in biomedical online research in Amsterdam, my teacher found out what trick I was using and she notified Dialog. Shortly after that, the party was over, which was not really a problem for me, except that I had to explain my boss why  he suddenly had to pay now for what he used to get for for free. (Dialog wasn’t cheap (10 US $ for each title displayed and 25 $ for every abstract and since It wasn’t my job to watch my Comppanies budget I quickly discovered I downloaded for thousands of dollars per week, only for Dialog). Furthermore I couldn’t care less  since the teachers were a bunch of arrogant lesbians and gays  who used to take coffee breaks which they called ‘Academic hours’ which actually took a full  hour and their conversations were absolutely uninteresting and off-topic. The teachers couldn’t teach me much anyway. I was already a better professional in their field than they were.

It was only after the year 2000 that spam became common and all SMTP servers had to be closed. Telnet was changed to SSH, a heavily protected and encrypted service.

When Mac OS X arrived I was already known with UNIX and started to use the more advanced UNIX tools (like opening X-Sessions to remote host.

Later on in my ICT carreer I worked with Java in Linux. Nutch required UNIX or Linux or Cygwin (with Windows) because it used Bash scripts for the crawler. DOS didn’t work since Nutch required the recursive commands available only in Bash or the C-shell. Mac OS still works fine with Nutch and Solr.

Most Apache developers prefer Linux however and still do. Linux contains (or ships) with loads of Development tools, which makes sense because Linux is an Open Source platform itself.

The Open source tools make it much more efficient to work together with a large community with members who are geographically spread around the globe. The most important tools used are:

  • Wikis are for  technical documentation. Apache uses MoinMoin.
  • Issue tracking was originally done with Bugzilla. Later on this was changed to Atlassian, which is a suite containing a Wiki, code coverage analyzer and an issue tracking system.
  • All development teams use a code repository. Apache uses SVN. And in some cases  git
  • When developing in (international) teams, communication is very important. Open Source development is a democratic process. Every time a new release candidate is ready, the team decides if it’s ready for release. This communication is done with email lists. Each email sent to the list is sent to all members. This allows quick voting.

How I can help you

  • If you decide to switch to Open Source and want to know what Linux can do for your organization, I would be most happy to help. Moving from Windows to (for example) Ubuntu Linux may seem a large and expensive traject but in the end you will earn your investment back.
  • I can help you with setting up migration plans, training & courses for your end users, as well as giving practical advice.
  • I can help you with all your Linux questions or Software installations.
Costs and rates

in most cases I can make a fixed price for your question(s). When I foresee problems or risks, I will work on an hourly rate of 50 €.

Other Top Consultants

If I cannot solve the problem myself I ask Dimitrios Anogiatis. A Linux Senior Consultant from Greece who has his own company. See  https://www.gnutechie.com/

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