Do the Mambo

The new Linux Magazine web site is an assembly of open source tools.
For the past few weeks, the Linux Magazine team has been deploying a new web site. And while the migration of old content to the new system is not yet complete, recent issues of the magazine and other new content are already available at http://www.linuxmagazine.com.
Our old site served us well, but it was time to move on to something better — and more modern. Since launching the magazine back in 1999, Tux left his rookery and become a full-fledged celebrity, attracting an entourage of open source languages and tools along the way. Today, if you want to cook up a custom web site, there are a plethora of Perl, Python, and PHP modules to code with. Or, if you want to leverage existing code and an active community, just a few minutes of searching reveals any number of open source content management systems, server monitoring packages, and web traffic analysis tools. In other words, it’s a buyer’s market, even if you have nothing to spend.
After looking at a number of choices, including custom development and a proprietary provider, we elected to use the Mambo Content Management System (http://www.mamboserver.com). Mambo is based on PHP and MySQL, has an active community of contributors and users, and its hardware requirements are not extravagant. Like many other polished PHP-based packages installation is a snap (done via the web), and customization is largely point-and-click. And, of course, Mambo is open source. The price can’t be beat, but better yet, the source is mutable and we were able to make a hack here and a hack there to tailor Mambo more closely to our needs.
Where the old site was static, our new site is dynamic. Content is added readily and easily, and the look of the entire site can be changed with a little HTML and CSS. Additional features, such as Google search, URL rewriting, and forums are added via Mambo components, modules, and mambots. All in all, the adoption of Mambo has been nothing short of enjoyable. (Of course, Mambo isn’t perfect. For example, sharing content between two isues of the magazine is a chore. But the Mambo team has already asked us for our case study and list of suggestions — things we’ll happily provide.)
Beyond Mambo, our new site is an assembly of a large number of open source tools. Nagios monitors our server; Webalizer tracks traffic; phpMyAdmin helps with our databases; and Max Media Manager is beginning to host some of our online advertisements. Zope is used to exchange files between editors, advertisers, and production staff. To facilitate the assembly of the magazine and to hasten the posting of content, Perl and Parse::RecDescent translate our internal markup format to HTML and Quark Xpress Tags. The process of producing content for print and online has been reduced from hours to seconds.
I mention our experience because I think it’s typical of the challenges faced by most businesses: unless your business in hosting servers or developing web sites, maintaining a web site is a distraction from the business at-hand — even if the web site is a necessity. Isn’t it nice then — as in our case — that you can turn to open source to provide so many workable and free solutions.
We encourage you to stop by our new site — using Firefox or Mozilla, perhaps — and send us your feedback. What do you like? Dislike? What improvements can be made? While on the new site, check out our web exclusive stories and our nascent job board, which lists Linux and open source jobs available throughout the industry.
New features are planned for the coming weeks, too, so stay tuned.
And thanks for reading.

Martin Streicher is the Editor-in-Chief of Linux Magazine. He can be reached at class="emailaddress">mstreicher@linux-mag.com.

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