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Better Passwords, REST from Web Services, and an Easy REBOLlion

by chromatic
Linux Newsletter for 11/03/2003

Welcome to the Linux newsletter, the usually weekly O'Reilly Network guide to the world of open source usage, development, and administration. Here's what's new on this week.

The easiest part of any security policy to dictate is that all passwords must be secure. That's also, paradoxically, perhaps the most difficult rule to enforce. Users are the bane of security. Making it easier to select and remember good passwords might just help, argues Dru Lavigne in Improving User Passwords with apg. This automatic password generator is highly configurable and just might help keep the human element of your network secure.

Speaking of being kind to humans, one of the great divides in the web services world (No, keep reading! It's really human friendly!) is over the nature of accessing these services. One camp suggests that tunneling remote RPC mechanisms such as XML-RPC and SOAP over HTTP is the way to go. Another camp suggests that the existing HTTP protocol, some twelve years old now, already provides the necessary verbs. What does this mean for the average developer? As Adam Trachtenberg demonstrates in PHP Web Services Without SOAP, the REST approach can often lead to simpler applications, both conceptually and in code.

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From the "here's something different" department, new author Gregg Irwin explores easy-to-build and easy-to-distribute GUI applications with the REBOL language. REBOL doesn't get much play, though it has a burgeoning open source implementation in OSCAR, and is intended to be able to run on Parrot. Gregg's Introducing REBOL with Amazingly Easy GUI Programming demonstrates the appeal of this language; you can write a GUI in just a few lines of code. Would that more toolkits worked this quickly or this easily.

This week's weblogs feature Jason McIntosh promoting a new XML-editing mode for Emacs, David Sklar speculating on a virtual machine war between Perl 6's Parrot and C#'s CLR, Jacek Artymiak revealing that a French reseller can't sell OpenBSD, and William Grosso calling for software plugins that provide better help than the built-in help. .

Next week's articles cover the wild worlds of open source pocket computing, open source telephony, and open source television.

In one sense or another,

Technical Editor
O'Reilly Network and Linux Devcenter Top Five Articles Last Week

  1. Installing Oracle 9iR2 on Red Hat 9
    While Oracle's understandably proud of their Linux support, Oracle 9i is unsupported on the latest and greatest Red Hat. That doesn't mean it doesn't work, just that you'll have to do a little tinkering. Roko Roic demonstrates how to install Oracle 91R2 on Red Hat 9.

  2. PHP Web Services Without SOAP
    Web services are hot these days, and SOAP gets a lot of the buzz. It's not the only game in town, though. REST advocates claim their approach is how the Web was meant to be. You decide. Adam Trachtenberg, coauthor of PHP Cookbook, demonstrates how to access's web services with PHP and REST; no special tools needed!

  3. Improving User Passwords with apg
    The biggest security weakness in any system is usually its users. One line of defense is choosing and enforcing a good password policy. The automatic password generator port can help your users create -- and remember -- effective passwords. Dru Lavigne demonstrates its use and configuration.

  4. Introducing REBOL with Amazingly Easy GUI Programming
    Cross-platform development and deployment is tricky, though modern toolkits aim to take away some of the troubles. Some languages have already solved this issue, though. Enter REBOL, a small but powerful network-enabled programming language. Gregg Irwin introduces the language by writing a tiny survey application.

  5. Building an Advanced Mail Server, Part 3
    While it'd be nice to pretend you never receive spam or viruses, server-side filters are a necessary evil. In the final installment of Building an Advanced Mail Server, Joe Stump demonstrates how to install and configure SpamAssassin and ClamAV.

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